COMICS: Shane Simmons

Shane Simmons
Longshot Comics
Slave Labor Graphics

S hane Simmons is telling some of the tiniest big stories in comic books--or is that the other way around? In his book Longshot Comics, Simmons tells decades-long stories in 24 pages. Every character is shrunk to the size of a dot, and each panel is smaller than a postage stamp.

Surprisingly, perhaps, his narratives are easy to follow, providing a case study in how to clarify the action in a comic book by relying on composition and dialogue. It's not just that the infant characters are smaller than the other dots: Simmons understands how to use conversational cues and composition to establish a smooth flow.

Which is extremely important, considering how fast these stories move. The second issue of Longshot Comics, for example, depicts the life of Bradley Gethers. The entire life. Bradley is born in Spain to British parents; joins the army during WWII; tries acting in London, New York City, and then Hollywood; testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee; teaches at a Canadian university; and dies after retiring in disgrace. All of which gives Simmons a chance to cram in as much material as he can, from the storming of Normandy and the communist witch-hunts to avant-garde theater and the game of cricket.

Simmons is really on to something here, delivery dry, occasionally smug jokes with such economy. Dots, it seems, are perfect for delivering jokes deadpan. Lacking body language and facial expression, these characters betray no emotion. By relying on little specks for his flea-sized epic, Simmons keeps his book a lightly entertaining--if also eye-straining--comedy.

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