Monday, December 15, 2008
Mini-Comic Monday: Izzy Challenge
JB Winter recently finished the fifth installment of Izzy Challenge, a comic featuring the title character, a mouse, that is presented in a unique way; each issue presents a different artistic challenge.
The first issue is a four-panel Watusi style jam (named after the character Watusi by Dale Martin), in which Winter illustrated the first panel, sent it to another artist for the second panel, which was sent to another artist for the third panel and then sent back to Winter for the final panel. This 16-page, 1/2-sized comic features 13 such comics wherein Izzy the mouse meets a mermaid, gets killed, eats cheese and finds himself in all sorts of oddball scenarios.
Issue two is a crossover jam between Winter and Martin, in which they both illustrate various pages and panels. The narrative thread, in which Izzy the Mouse and Watusi the Talking Dog cross paths and try to get to the bottom of a mysterious animal infection, is interesting and you can tell both of the authors have a lot of fun illustrating their own, and each other's, characters.
The third issue is a five-panel jam by Winter and more than 30 other artists. In the five-panel jam, Winter creates the first panel and a different artist illustrates the next, then another artist the third, and so on. Winter also does a variation of this where he illustrates the first panel, different people illustrate panels 2-4 and then he illustrates the fifth panel. It's not much, but the addition of another panel makes a much bigger difference than the four panel jams, seen in the first issue. It's fun to see how Winter wraps up the oddball interpretations of his original panels.
Issue four is not a jam. Instead, it is a quarter-sized flip book, in which Winter challenged himself to create the first half of the book using a 12-hour Ink Bottle Challenge (wherein he uses 1/12th of the bottle of the ink to create one page an hour for a total of twelve pages). The second half of the book employing the 12 Hour Pencil Challenge (wherein he uses 1/12t of a pencil to create one page an hour for a total of 12 pages). The pencil challenge is more visually interesting, I think, because Winter is forced to do a ton of scribbling to meet his goal. The two stories meet in the middle and you have to flip up the page, to reveal a full size page, to read the ending. The story, starring Izzy, also features Hoo the Owl, who is on the run from men with guns.
I have a particular love for geography, so issue five is my personal favorite. According to the cover, it is "a collection of panels by 50 artists from every state in the USA." In this issue, Izzy is touring the country, in alphabetical order, and Winter drew Izzy in 50 different poses and sent that illustration to a different artist in each state, who filled in the background. The contexts illustrated vary widely, with some being state specific (i.e. Izzy visits DisneyLand in Florida) whereas others were not necessarily state specific (i.e. camping in Idaho). I loved to see the different local flavors and some names I recognized (such as Mini-Comix Co-Op organizer DC McNamara and Candy or Medicine contributors Colin Tedford and Brien Wayne Powell). This is sort of like a mini-comic version of a book I'm currently reading, State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (which features an illustrated chapter about Oregon by Joe Sacco, who is probably my favorite comic artist, and one about Vermont, which is probably my favorite state, by Alison Bechdel).
I'm sure this issue was difficult to assemble, but the end result definitely paid off. Quite an inventive jam, and Mr. Winter seems to be one of the leading authorities on jam comics in the country. I'll enjoy seeing what he comes up with next. Although I can't imagine what'd top his edible 24-hour comic.
Order any (or all) of the Izzy Challenge comics at www.jbwinter.com. Winter is currently having a sale where you can purchase all five comics for just $3.50 shipped! That's quite a deal.