Comic Jason Bradshaw, No Commercial Value Press, jasonrbradshaw.tumblr.com, $5
Announcing itself as a sad mess right from the start, the latest release from Toronto artist Jason Bradshaw is a surreal comic compilation that somehow manages to combine a gory Frasier fan fiction, a hipster’s honest rumination on gentrification, a childhood memory about barbies, and culminates into a close-up of an about-to-be-sliced eyeball; his own personal Un Chien Andalou.
While the narratives are gripping, it takes a second read-through to truly appreciate the detail and variety within these panels, some of which span the entire page, while others repeat themselves across several. In one of the more arresting vignettes, Bradshaw’s grandfatherly character, Jeff, reflects on the crosswords he completes at his shitty job, appreciating the fact that he’s undermining the labour power extracted by his rich boss. While the story is told in four panels spanning four pages, the actual crosswords are plopped in the middle of each, letters gradually filling in each box as Jeff tries to accept a life of looking busy.
These fictional narratives are balanced against Bradshaw’s own first-person accounts, where he embraces the mundane (relishing the first day of jort-wearing weather) or something as dramatic as finding comfort in embracing someone he loves. While parts of Bore come across as melodramatic as it jostles between joy and pain, this is the price we pay for a comic that simply catalogues feelings and work. As Bradshaw admits on the inside flap of Bore’s beautiful cardstock half-cover: “I don’t know what this is. This collection. A comic book, I know, but there’s nothing to hold it together other than staples and sadness. No organizing principle. No theme. This is, I suppose, simply what I drew since the last one.” While this kind of approach can and often does come across as lazy in the hands of unpracticed artists, the 10th issue of Bore makes it anything but. (Jason Luther)