Big Deal Comics – Patrick Dean

Patrick Dean’s self-published mini comics seem – from what I’ve read – to be darkly humored and tweaked slice-of-life tales, with that ‘tweak’ bringing with it a ton more entertainment than slice-of-life may suggest.  Roundabout twenty pages, in a scratchy pen reminiscent of a looser Dan Decarlo or New Yorker-style cartooning, Dean packs a lot of fun into his few pages, of which I’ve only been able to purchase a scant few.  Too few!  Hopefully I’ll get more, and will add to the reviews below.

 #11 – 3 out of 5

Some one page vignettes vaguely tracing a few recent breakups from both sides, this is, initially, the most ‘normal’ seeming of the Dean tales I’ve sampled… until one of those relationships involves a ghost.  The story takes most of its pages to get around to its point, acting like a sequence of amusing observations and singledom musings until then, and because of that openness, it isn’t quite as grabbing as the other offerings.  Would be a great cast to return to, though…

 #12 – 5 out of 5

A haunter of a dilapidated motel organizes a weekend soiree for any ghoul or haunt to attend.  The narrative floats (yuck) freely from conversation to conversation, returning to quips on how the living interact with the dead, and our host’s and cohost’s somewhat bitter reminiscences on their pasts.  A simple but genius concept, pushed into hilariously goofy concepts (the ghost orbs often “captured” as supernatural spectra in pics are attendees) while retaining an endearing and honest humanity.

 #13 – 5 out of 5

You’re hosting a party and someone leaves their goddamned bear behind.  We’ve all been there.  That’s the perfect premise for this snapshot: a put-upon reporter can’t catch a break, seemingly for a story or in life, despite having plenty of (to we readers) bemusing interactions and thoughts.  Dean gives us hilarious bear / human interplay, modernized constellations, and lame ghosts.  It’s distilled excellence, and hits a precise balance of sadness. Mystery, and ridiculousness.

#14 – 4 out of 5

Five snapshots of a relationship, from meetup to breakup.  Dean has done this shtick within Big Deal before (see above), and if he wasn’t so good at capturing this stuff with just the right blend of honesty and cynicism, it’d be easy to brush it off as normal indie comics fare.  But, well, he’s gosh darn great at what I just mentioned, and so the normally eye-rolly attempts at emotionality are dribbled with an acerbic tang of an outsider’s perspective, i.e. the guy who walks away at the end of the last snapshot, no lessons learned, just a little too-real moment captured and experienced.

#15 – 5 out of 5

How has this not been done before?  If it has, kudos to Mr. Dean for being the first example to reach me.  I sorta don’t want to ruin the central premise, because it’s a  hoot, so let’s just call it a horror and crime mash up, with a noir spin on the latter genre, and leave it at that.  We have a heist gone wrong, giving us a couple of unlikely-paired bandits we’re promised (and we hope!) to see again.  Dean’s personable characterizations help to give the tale his usual edge, with his inks shadowed up heavy to stick with the horror vibe.