Blobby Boys by Alex Schubert
Writer & Artist: Alex Schubert
Release Date: September 1, 2013
One of the reasons Koyama continues to put out interesting stuff is its refusal to stick to more traditional publishing formats. The big guys in indie comics publishing (Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly) most likely release longer works to recoup costs, and the even bigger publishing houses that have subsidiary imprints (First Second, Pantheon, Houghton Mifflin) aren’t used to printing something that’s a mere 32-pages long. Alex Schubert’s bizarre series of vignettes, Blobby Boys, isn’t that short, but at around 50 pages, it’s not very long either. It occupies a weird, in-between area perfect for breaking new voices or trying out something screwy.
Schubert is best known for drawing strips for Vice, and his visuals do fit into the raw aesthetic of that magazine: deliberately somewhat-ugly, but also carefully crafted. It’s not the kind of ugliness Paper Rad achieves by piling on thing after thing; it’s something a little more clearly-shaped. That’s not to say that Schubert’s work is actually ugly, but partakes in ugliness in the way its artist doesn’t hesitate to break a word at the end of a line in the middle of a syllable, in what Nick Gazin (comics editor for Vice, who provides an introduction borrowed from a Comics Journal interview) calls his “ratty” line, laid in the awkward and institutional color scheme that comes from the palette of linoleum tiles in a big-box store.
While reading, you may feel something familiar gnawing at you, without being quite able to place it. It’s not the influence of other comics. Instead, it’s the touch of video games. That habit of weird word-wrapping, lettering that is both precise in its verticality and a bit fuzzy at the same time, talking-head close-ups with just a bit of background visible—these are elements from early-to-mid-’90s gaming, and it’s interesting to see them deployed in a new medium without being acknowledged as such.
Schubert’s writing is good, too, if rarely seeming like more than freestyling in these loosely related short strips that feature characters like the Blobby Boys (a band who kill their rivals), Aging Hipster (self-explanatory), and Cyber Surfer (a cyborg). But the bold art is what really sets him apart from his fellows.