Mike Harvey began 2011 with a simple, demanding plan: He would produce an eight-page minicomic every Wednesday for 52 straight weeks — all on his own. Harvey had experience self-publishing comics (his series, Knuckle Buster, remains ongoing), but this time he'd be doing everything himself, right down to printing and distribution. With no boundaries other than the page count and a standing deadline, desperation quickly set in. But out of his frantic efforts to make it to the next Wednesday, Harvey began to grow rapidly as a storyteller. Gag-based strips like "Gene the Cat Genie" (a cat who grants wishes, always including a feline-related side effect) gave way to serio-comic explorations of homelessness (Harvey's "Edgar J. Penniesworth, the World's Richest Hobo," was tongue-in-cheek, even as Harvey argued for the inherent dignity of all people, regardless of economic background), and then somehow morphed into "Stick Figure Bobby: The One-Hit Wonder." This story of an unknown comic book creator rising to the pinnacle of the field was no feel-good story; the artist ends up feeling betrayed by success and resentful of his audience's expectations. Stick Figure Bobby condensed huge ideas about artistic integrity and purity of vision into eight concise pages that hit like a hammer because it effectively utilized the shortcuts inherent in the medium. Watching Harvey hone his artistic vision so publicly was a treat. Not every issue was a winner, but every issue brought something unexpected and interesting — how many other comics can you say that about?
© 2018 Riverfront Times