Thursday, February 05, 2009

Drop In by Dave Lapp

I read this comic collection, Drop In, by Dave Lapp on my lunchbreak today. I can't say I love the art and the writing is oddly clunky at times---and yet Drop In is one of the better comics I've read in a while.

It's a very simple concept---Lapp has worked in "drop in" centers for years---places in Toronto where low income children literally drop in to make art. Lapp draws strips about stories the children tell him, stories he tells them, and little events that happen.

What's good about this book is how odd the stories come across, which means Lapp is working really hard here: instead of lazily retelling these stories and letting them fit into a normal mode (child says this, beat, response, coherent finale), Lapp does the work to make the interactions feel as disjointed and open ended as they probably were inr eal life. i feel a certain amount of kinship with this. The more I read comics (or books) with very clean writing, the more I feel that disjointed "experimental" writing is closer to "realism" then naturalistic fiction will ever be. Reading the weird exchanges in Drop In makes labored over "realistic" writing seem stilted.

I also love Drop In for its moral attitude. This is a book about poor children and Lapps interaction with them. Somehow---and this is a commendable accomplishment---Lapp shows care and feeling for this children and makes us angry for their plight without an ounce of heavy handedness. How does he do it?

Through his cartooning. He depicts the events so well and with such artistry that our sympathies can't help but be with these kids. Lapp depicts the action so well that he doesn't need to tell us to care---his drawing makes us care.

So this comic has a leg up on most anything else out there right now. even though the art is a bit dull (although it has a foundation of greatness and an interesting design sense...which will inevitably get better as Lapp keeps cartooning. This is his debut so serviceable artwork is quite an accomplishment actually---and there are touches of greatness in hi pattern making and some of his less tight drawing) I admire the ambition of Drop In so much. Not many comics are so fresh and so right in their approach to storytelling---and even fewer are as important to read for their subject matter.

You can get it here:


dylan sparkplug said...

Thanks for that, I've been meaning to find out about that book.

Alan said...

Yeah nice review Austin. Just one thing I'd like to point out because I've seen the mistake a couple of times is that Dave is new to cartooning or a 'developing cartoonist'. I realize that this is because this is the first graphic novel he's put out, but Dave has been doing comics for probably 15-20 years. His strip 'Children of the Atom' ran in the Vancouver's Georgia Straight for years; a strip in a neighbourhood Toronto paper for even longer than that; and he has done a LOT of mini-comics (most notably a series back in the late 80s early nineties call 'The Hood'). Whatever you feel about his cartooning style, I think it's safe to say that it represents a conscious choice, and isn't due to inexperience in making comics- though you should probably confirm all this yourself on your 20 questions blog;)