Bee in My Bonnet!

"bee in... The Ramble" from MySpace/Dark Horse

There was a unique and unusual pleasure to be had in hearing the comicsmith, Jason Little, read this comic out loud with accompanying music and a projection of the comic panel-by-panel to a small crowd at one of R. Sikoryak's (@RSikoryak) Carousel nights a few months back. Now the masses can be exposed to it as well since it has been published on "MySpace Dark Horse Presents". The experience of hearing this comic read that night (and then having it divorced from that experience on the web) was particularly surreal for reasons that will become clear over the course of this review.

Right from the start "The Ramble" is a hilarious tale of two friends meeting-up in the Big Apple's world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art for a... uh... unique tour. Oh man. You've really got to click the link at the top of this post and read it yourself to fully appreciate this. THERE ARE NO WORDS.

Speaking of there 'being no words,' one of the most fun elements of the comic is explored after they leave the MET, occasional pictographs in place of words. An element that starts out playful like this:

and this:

And later, after a few sausage jokes, crescendos into something brilliant, painful, awkward, and hilarious:

And that's the tip of the iceberg.

There's a sequence of photographs inter-spliced with drawings during a tour of statues and another one during a film [above], four panels in silhouette during a discussion about burlesque, and there's a panel in '3-D' color-separation style while talking about 3-D. A character attempts to better read the text in another panel by grabbing the panel borders! The piece does take Bee and friends through the part of Central Park called the Ramble and all over New York City, but really it's a ramble through different art mediums and styles Little finds interesting. (On his blog, Little refers to this as the practice of "putting it all in there". Which says everything.)

Actually, as far as Jason Little's career in comics, the whole piece is just the tip of the iceberg.

I first became aware of Jason Little (@Beecomix) several years ago when I suddenly found myself in possession of a copy of "Jack's Luck Runs Out" from Top Shelf Productions, a marvelous/crazy comic that's like a Tarantino action-movie but with a playing-card visual style set in the world capital of entertainment: Las Vegas. I first became aware of his rotund reoccurring character Bee, a little over a year ago when I discovered "bee in... Motel Art Improvement Service" on [Unfortunately, that link now only goes to a 10-page excerpt. Fortunately, that means that a collected print edition from Dark Horse is in the works!] a webcomic about sexual discovery and... a whole lot of other crazy things.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself a few months ago at the Carousel event at which he read "bee in... The Ramble" and his personal style is as warmly whimsical as his comics. The surreality of the story for me is that after a sequence in which Bee and her friend get thrown out of a silent movie for the above antics, they arrive at a Carousel event where a sequential self-portrait of Little himself reads the first half of the comic we were hearing! Reading this later on the web broke the 'this comic could be now' feeling, but added an exotic feeling of cluing you into this weird gathering of comicsmiths. Add to this, the fact that it's the last comic in the last issue of "MySpace Dark Horse Presents" and that's mighty strange right?

The humor in the character interactions can be a bit 'precious' at times and the draftsmanship has a few uneven moments, but in the end the jokes are great, the art is smooth, plus it's colored fantastically, and the play with art medium and art-styles more than makes up for any faults anywhere else.

Really, all of Jason Little's work I've encountered so far is worth reading. Look him up at Beekeeper Cartoon Amusements' website.

~ @JonGorga

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