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Gloom Serially

Comic, 24 pgs, Part 1, Deep Madder Press, $5,

Looking sorta South Park-ish, Gloom Serially is a cool self-referential comic. It’s light on action and heavy on wordiness. The main characters ponder some weighty questions (“So what the fuck is life?”) and some less important ones (“Do you need a hug?”). There seems to be academic underpinnings to Gloom Serially. One of the characters talks about teaching a zine course at the University of Toronto. Another talks about being a TA. Again, lots of wordiness and dialogue, much of it rooted in insecurity and punctuated with plenty of non-gratuitous swearing. The zine also examines the social currency within platonic hugging between friends, and the ways in which this can differ if you’re a boy versus if you’re a girl. So basically, this comic looks at some big, 5,000-foot issues but also drills things down via banal everyday conversation, spliced with angst and (again) insecurity. It takes a few reads to get a decent grasp on the structure, but paired with some pretty strong illustrations, Gloom Serially works well. It gives the reader some clean, clear illustrations to look at, even at times when the characters become completely insufferable. This does happen on occasion. (Cam Gordon)