comic book review

The Henbanes by TMD

There's a guy who posts here at jabberous as eeTeeD and daws comics under the pen name TMD. I know his real name, but I can't say it. I'm assuming that. I'm not sure, maybe I can. This is going to be a weird review because certain things will need explaining, and I don't know the answers, and I don't want to assume too much.

Very quickly, some background info (or lack of it) on TMD, because I think a lot of jabberous regulars are curious, and at least two of us want to party with that guy! I know a LITTLE BIT more about him than the rest of you, but very little. I know where he worked as a designer/artist as a small cog in a large machine, for example. I've even seen some of the work he did there, and it's pretty good.

Here's what we all know about eeTeeD. He is a very passionate opinionated guy. He is a comic book creator, but wants strict control over who sees his work, and under what conditions. He wants to use the same mop and bucket that Reed Crandall used when he is a poor old janitor in a pizza joint someday. He feels defeated and thinks very few people will enjoy his comics because people just don't get that kind of stuff any more.

Now he has self-published a comic book called The Henbanes and it is an interesting, well-done comic. Those of us who know eeTeeD may find it fascinating, not being able to seperate the comic from the creator, and reading all kinds of psychoanalysis between the lines. I could feel a struggle between intimacy and exposure duking it out behind the scenes in this comic. When I got it in the mail I had no idea what it was. It arrived in a plain manilla envelope with just a return address. I did not immediately recognize it as eeTeeD work, having seen very little of his comics. I scratched my head, put it down with the rest of the mail, and went and ate supper.

Later that night I picked up the odd comic and started flipping through it. It has no real cover, but a sort of hybrid between a cover and a page 1. Way down at the bottom in tiny type I learn it is the intellectual property of TMD! "HEY! Wow, this is eeTeeD's comic!" I exclaimed in my head.

I gotta be honest. I was kind of dreading having to read it. I mean, the guy is so WEIRD. I thought it was going to be "one of those" comics, and make about as much sense as the very few sketches he has revealed over the last year or so. But it is in fact a well-crafted well-written well-drawn comic. I enjoyed it. Parts of it seem a bit precious to me and I don't like "manga mouths", but overall I think it's better than a LOT of comics that are on the news stands.

I know eeTeeD is convinced that no one will publish it, and if they do, very few people will get it. And his reservations are valid. Fantagraphics no longer wants to publish Runaway Comic because very few people get it. eeTeeD and I both seem to have that curse - too mainstream for alternative, and too alternative for mainstream.

But you never know what the public will latch onto. The parts of The Henbanes that trip me up, the preciousness and the manga mouths, may be what thousands of teenage girls go nuts over. Throw in the occultism and you've got a whole 'nother demographic right there.

I'll try to post a couple of sample panels later. I forgot to bring the book to work today, and I don't have a scanner at home.

The Henbanes is a good read and won't make you wish you had that time back. It's refreshingly unstuffy.

NOTE: I had to drop the Runaway bomb in here because it's relevant to eeTeeD's anxiety about the comics biz. I don't want this post to be about me, but it's true - no more Runaway Comics. Let's talk about it later. This one's for eeTeeD.


eeTeeD said...

mark martin said, "...too mainstream for alternative, and too alternative for mainstream..."

you hit the nail on the head.

Benny said...

Hurry up and send mine, if you please, Pumpie.

Howard Cruse said...

This is a test to see if Blogger has decided it will allow me to comment today. On previous days it has refused because I don't have a Blogger (or Google) "identity," but if I try and register it claims that someone has already registered with my email address.

If you get this it'll mean that I've somehow made it through the Blogger Barrier, but I won't know why.

Anyway, thanks for linking to by blog post about Benny.

eeTeeD said...

benny, mark won't get the comics until thursday.
i do want to thank you for the comments you made about the promo art. they meant a lot to me.
how ironic that howard cruse's test post wound up here. i dare say that mr. cruse suffers from the same curse that mark and i suffer from.
i met howard cruse at several new york conventions back in "the day". i am quite confident that neither i, nor the examples of my work that i showed him left any impression on him.

Colin Tedford said...

I am late to the party...

Mark: That Dooky was fun stuff! I'd forgotten all about that character. Also, fie and fooey on this Runaway news!

eeteed: I suspect your secret marketing strategy is REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY - getting us to want to read it by insisting we don't! Well, it's working - can I get one of these things? I can send dough, or I can send minicomics. colintedford at gmail dot com

eeTeeD said...

colin, i sent mark a few extra copies of the comic, but not extra envelopes and not extra postage.
if you are good friends with mark you can work something out with him to send you one.
if not let me know, and i will e-mail you for your address, and send you one myself.

Benny said...

Man, I'm getting STOKED!
This is a big reverse switcheroo ploy! And I'm LOVIN' IT!

Marky Mark said...

I got Colin covered.
But only because I'll see him in person soon, and only because I'm NOT giving 3 to Bissette!
Remember, eeTeeD, tough love! It's for your own good. Comic book enthusiasts should know how to contact you directly so they can send you money, fan mail, hate mail, Dooky pages, etc!
Dobbs, if you're reading this, don't pout. I got you one too.