That Thing You Fall Into
Duty Must Be Done
Self-published by Diana Tamblyn
Here are three diverse mini-comics, all of them good, one of them excellent. That Thing You Fall Into is an 8-page vignette about a woman whose relationship is not taking the turns she thinks it is. The comic is a showcase for Tamblyn's terrific ability to depict conversations and quiet human moments. The final three panels are extraordinary, perfectly, wordlessly conveying a different, related emotion in each step of the sequence. Tamblyn also uses crosshatching to wonderful effect in That Thing, creating texture and weight while her linework always keeps the reader firmly in the intended setting.
Writer's Block is 11 pages about just what the title implies, with Tamblyn reflecting on expectations and self-doubt, and the maddening void of the empty page (or computer monitor, as the case may be). A sublime cover gives way to an assured use of black ink inside, and if Tamblyn's characters seem a bit stiff or awkward here or there, it is more than made up for by the strength of her story and her overall visual sense. Her lead character, Al Thompson, is drawn in such a way as to clue the reader in that he doesn't mean to keep disappointing those waiting for his next work, he just needs time and inspiration to find his way back to his writing. The Greek Chorus of family members with their suggested topics for his next work highlights the wealth of ideas, and the difficulty in finding the good ones.
Duty Must Be Done: The Story of Frederick Banting was a story I had already read in the SPX 2002 anthology, but Tamblyn has overhauled the story, re-writing parts, re-lettering the whole, and adding an epilogue. The story was a standout in its original appearance, but here by itself it's a revelation: Tamblyn's comics reportage in Duty is as strong as that of Harvey Pekar or David Collier, and the art wonderfully conveys the life and sometimes tragic times of Frederick Banting, the Canadian physician who discovered a key medical treatment for diabetics. While my interest in the story is somewhat personal, being diabetic myself, there's no question in my mind that anyone who reads Duty will be captivated by Tamblyn's presentation. It's just an absolutely fantastic use of the mini-comics format.
A note enclosed with these comics says Tamblyn is working on another mini to be released very soon: I can't wait for more. Grades: That Thing You Fall Into: 4/5; Duty Must Be Done: 5/5; Writer's Block: 4.5/5
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