Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Eyebeam by Sam Hurt
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit 3 collections of a very special comic strip- Eyebeam, by Sam Hurt.
Part of what I love about these strips (which are all from the 80s) is how deceptive they are. You might pass them by... unless you stop and really look.
Their visual style is not flashy. In fact, at times (in the early strips), it's a bit laboured. But that's part of what I like. They have the look of someone who NEEDED to make the comics, whether he was a great visual artist or not. As he went on, Hurt got more polished, but not in the early ones. Today, you see a lot of strips that are drawn by very practiced, trained artists- but that are simply not entertaining in any way. Yawn.
These strips are very honest, visually... and in time, as you keep reading, the rough style itself actually adds to the humour and enjoyment. Things look funny in this world.
But the main attraction is how creative the story lines are. They aren't really like anything else. Essentially, it's a bit of a sit com style, with recurring college-aged kids that inhabit a decidedly surreal landscape. But it's quietly surreal, nothing flashy. It's just... strange, with twists off into pretty crazy fantasy realms. It's nuts, but in a very controlled, funny, mature fashion.
Best of all- the characters are likable, and are sustainable over the long format. They use big, smart words (gasp!), have functioning brains, and spend time pondering the bigger things in life (but never at the expense of a good smile by panel 4).
Super charming, super entertaining... and very much under the radar.
It's also set near Austin, Texas, so it has to be cool.
Here's the archive. It seems Hurt is still working the title, but I haven't really checked the more recent entries out. I recommend starting at the beginning.
It's a lot more fun to read it in print. If you ever come across the collections, grab em all up.