The Comic Queen

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

I Missed the Boat: Rob Ullman

Often, I feel like I live in a pop culture cocoon. Sometimes, more often than I’d like to admit actually, cool stuff just passes me by. Eventually, when I do discover it and realize its greatness I wonder, “What was I doing in (insert year here) that caused me to miss (insert awesome discovery here)?” Was I too busy with Uncanny X-Men and oodles of Spiderman titles to notice all the sweet little indie gems floating by? Recently this happened to me yet again with the work of Rob Ullman.

When the call to help Alternative Comics came out, I had to do my part. Somehow I ended up on Ullman’s site ordering a slew of titles dating back to 1994. I was wholly impressed with all the books. They are fun slice-of-life tales and I could relate to a lot of them. How did I go ten years without reading these books? That just isn’t right.

Signifying Nothing: The Collected From the Curve 1994-1998
The first book collects the best of the first 5 issues of Ullman’s mini-comic From the Curve. Most of the pages are four panel stand alone comics where Ullman illustrates scenes from his life. These include little everyday occurrences that happen to most everyone, but are often ignored. It’s great that they are captured here. “Distraction” is my favorite story of those included because it describes a stupid argument that couples often have perfectly. It is the old “you’re not spending enough time with me” fight laid out exactly as thousands of couples have argued it. The autobiographical style is very enjoyable and doesn’t come off as vain here.

From the Curve 5, 6, and 7
I also picked up the last three issues of From the Curve. This continues with what was laid out in Signifying Nothing. There are more everyday life stories including one about a freezing apartment and visits to a hockey game and a concert. You can really see Ullman’s drawing improving in these issues as well.

Grand Gestures
Released in 2003 by Alternative Comics, Grand Gestures is Ullman’s first graphic novel. The story revolves around sensitive soul Perry, horny jerk Brody, and regular joe Ken and their relationships with the women in their lives. These characters were first seen in “Late Show” in From the Curve #7 and that story is reprinted at the end of the book. Ullman captures male friendships here nicely and doesn’t make the characters overly macho. They talk about their problems honestly while giving each other a fair amount of ribbing. I really enjoy this story and the characters and hope to see more of these three in the future.

Ullman’s next project is Pink volume 2, a collection of sketchbook pin-ups. While this one doesn’t interest me, I’m definitely looking forward to more of his work, because I enjoyed these books so much.

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