Today Annie Mok reviews Compass South.
Compass South is a YA adventure graphic novel, a genre I’m happy to see revived in comics. While the story shows its influences to a distracting degree (Tintin, et al), it’s an entertaining, suspenseful tale, albeit with a bit of a slow start. Author-illustrator Hope Larson writes, coming off the heels of her well-received comics adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and the star cartoonist and illustrator Rebecca Mock draws (credited with the possibly demeaning billing of “Illustrations by”). It follows Dickensian adolescent twins Alex (disguising himself as “Samuel”) and Cleopatra (becoming Patrick, a boy), who “fink” on a pirate, and then disguise themselves as a rich man’s lost twins to try to get some money. The gender play is handled subtly, with the story suggesting that Patrick is more comfortable presenting as a boy.
This looks like a good show in Basel, Switzerland, of Aline and Robert Crumb's collaborative work. I think it's probably hard for people in retrospect to appreciate how radical a cartoonist Aline Kominsky was when she began. If you look at that work, and look at everything around it in comics, there's just no precedent. Rory Hayes was "crude" but nevertheless working within established EC genres in one way or another. Aline was just off on her own, channeling other modes of modern drawing into cartoon form. And that's just the form. The content was a whole other kind of break from convention. Amazing, amazing work.
Whatever it looks like (and I don't much care), I'm disappointed that George Lucas's proposed museum for narrative art didn't find a home in Chicago. It would have been a great resource for the city's cartooning community, given the substantial holdings of, well... no one really knows, but rumored major holdings of Herriman, Foster, Wyeth, Rockwell and lord knows what else. Lucas has been a major collector of comic art since the 1970s. I hope it lands somewhere! Here's a summary of the various battles/cock-ups along the way.