Credit where it’s due : cartoonist Hiller Goodspeed’s 2018 Perfectly Acceptable release Simple Things makes perfectly clear what it is going in — from its title to its pared-down cover aesthetics, you know what you’re getting into with this one before you ever even open it up. Here’s the thing, though — as any seasoned reader of small press and self-published comics knows, there’s a whole lot out there that’s deceptive in its simplicity. Or, perhaps more accurately, complex in its simplicity.
John Porcellino is the first name that leaps to mind, of course, his legendary King-Cat Comix utilizing the most basic line art to communicate conceptual, emotional, and even physical depth with a wistful touch and wry sense of humor — but the distinguished Mr. Porcellino himself would be the fist to admit that there are those who preceded him on this particular path, the most notable probably being…
A man (Ben Loggins) leaves his home one day, thinks about how his life has recently gone wrong, and then goes to an unfinished office building where he kills not only the people who he considers responsible but also anyone else who gets in his way. Trapped in the building with him and trying to survive through the night until the doors automatically unlock in the morning are the building’s manager, Mary Ann Marshall (Kathleen Quinlan), and a corporate spy who is only willing to say that May Ann should call him John Doe (Bruce Abbott).
Trapped was produced for and originally aired on the USA network and it went on to become a USA mainstay for most of the 90s. It’s a surprisingly violent and gory for a made-for-TV film from 1989 and the nearly-empty office building is an appropriately creepy setting. Director Fred Walton does a good job of creating and maintaining a sense of suspense and he’s helped by three excellent lead performances from Kathleen Quinlan, Bruce Abbott, and especially Ben Loggins. Loggins is credited as simply being “The Killer” and the film keeps his motives murky. If you pay attention, you can discover what has driven him over the edge but the film is smart enough to concentrate on the cat-and-mouse game that he plays with Quinlan and Abbott. One thing that sets Trapped‘s Killer apart from other psycho move stalkers is that Trapped‘s Killer is ambidextrous, carrying a dagger in one hand and a baseball bat in the other, making him even more intimidating than the typical movie psycho. Kathleen Quinlan, an underrated actress who is probably best-known for playing Tom Hanks’s wife in Apollo 13, is also a feisty and likable heroine.
Don’t let its origin as a made-for-TV film scare you off. Trapped is a good and suspenseful thriller.
Sketchbooks always reveal something about an artist’s process — but Brianna Rose Brooks’ 2018 Perfectly Acceptable release, Oh My (Bri), goes a step further by revealing much of its author’s psyche. It’s an intimate glimpse at a remarkable talent — disarmingly intimate, in fact — but it’s also not necessarily for those who don’t appreciate a challenge when they’re “only” expecting to look at some amazing drawings.
Described by its publisher as dealing with “topics of intimacy, identity, and blackness” — truth in advertising, I assure you — it’s nevertheless a safe bet that readers will be at least occasionally taken aback by how far she goes in exploring these themes, visually and literally. And while the sketches and essay collected herein span a roughly three-year gamut, the cumulative effect of the work as a whole bears the conceptual weight of a liftetime having been spent not just…
Gino D’Achille was born in Rome and began his career as an artist when, at the age of 11, he personally presented a portrait he had done of Pope Pius XII to the pontiff himself. D’Achille studied at Rome’s Liceo Artistico and then later worked as a commercial artist in Milan. It was there that his work was first spotted by British talent scouts, who persuaded D’Achille to move to the UK and pursue his career as an illustrator in London. It was while living in London that D’Achille’s science fiction-themed work was first discovered and truly appreciated. D’Achille was especially known for the covers he did for a series of John Carter of Mars reprints but he actually worked in all genres and, in some circles, was even better known for illustrating David Kossoff’s Bible Stories.
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