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Comic Review: The Matchbook Comics of Silber Media
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Silber Media: BuildThe Matchbook Comics of Silber Media
All Comics written by Brian John Mitchell
Art by Various
Silber Media

People don’t say this often enough, but mini comics are cool. Really cool.

Those tiny, cheap volumes printed on 12 generic pieces of printer paper, folded and half held together by a single staple down the middle? Love them. Those pretentious, autobiographical comics you only find in comic book stores in walking distance to some rinky-dink liberal arts college? Can’t get enough of them. Those ugly, xeroxed books with art that looks like it was done by some disgruntled high school kid and, in fact, probably was? Those are my favorites!

Enter Brian John Mitchell. He’s been doing his own style of minis since 2003. A musician out of North Carolina with a small record label, Silber Records, he sells his own matchbook-sized comics through his website and at shows. They’re small in size, but large in scope. Whether it’s a western or a domestic drama, an autobio-comedy or a straight sci-fi, the style stays essentially the same. One panel per page. Short, declarative sentences. Like a haiku, it’s a sparse but surprisingly rich approach to doing comics.

What is different from book to book is the art. Mitchell uses a variety of different artists who bring a variety of styles to the table. It’s nothing fancy, anyone expecting full color should look elsewhere, but when you add the somber artwork by Andrew White on REH, a peek into the life of Robert E. Howard, with the cartoonish work of Joe Badon on the robot story, Built (pictured above), you see that excitement there, that contagious excitement of raw comic book storytelling. There’s even stick figure work by Mitchell himself and Dave Sim of Cerebus fame pops in to do a book.

If your typical graphic novel, written and drawn by professionals in their respective fields, are polished studio albums, then mini comics are four-track mix tapes recorded in a basement. While few can stack up against the pros in terms of draftsmanship, complexity of re-printed images, or just plain general use of color, they have a very magical immediacy to them. This is a real person doing comics on his or her own. Whether they’re learning or trying to get published, or are just dedicated to doing things their own way, it doesn’t matter. Discovering a good comic, divorced from any editorial control, driven entirely by a creator’s own will, is one of the greatest feelings a comic book fan can have.

You can go to the Silber Media website to view the comics as a PDF or to purchase the print versions.

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