Wednesday, May 5, 2010
F Minus. Tony Carrillo. Andrews McMeel Publishing (2007)
This is a collection of Tony Carrillo's clever, snarky and very funny single panel cartoons. While the cartoons follow no particular content theme or strategy, the format is consistent. The cartoons do not have captions, usually one of the cast within the panel is speaking which provides the text element.
The art is very distinctive, Tony Carrillo uses the minimum level of detail required to enable the person or object to be identified, the facial features of the human cast are expressive and minimal. The body language of the human cast is wonderfully expressive, it is very subtle, there are rarely any dramatic gestures. The underlying attitude of the person could not be clearer.
The power of the cartoons lies in the clever and very pointed ideas that they are expressing. One cartoon has a young boy returning home from school, the school bus is visible in the background, standing just inside his front door wearing just his underpants and school bag thinking "Hmm... Feels like I should have woken up by now."
There is a very astute balance between the elements in the cartoons in the collection, the art and text act together, they do not opposes or repeat each other. The work has an enjoyable sour tang at times, one carton has homework graded "C" fixed to the cistern of a toilet while a father tells a little boy " Sorry Mikey, you know the rules. Only A's go on the fridge."
There is a welcome range of topics in the work, some are absurd and some simply silly, all have been carefully set up to deliver the maximum punch. This is smart work that bears considerable re-reading without loosing its impact or humour.