If I had to guess — and I don’t, but I will — I’d surmise that the title for Haleigh Buck’s self-published (on nice heavy cardstock) 2018 (I think?) mini 0.03 refers to a particular size of pen tip . Probably a very tiny pen tip. But I could be wrong about that.
What I’m not wrong about is that this compact collection of illustrations was, in fact, drawn with some pretty tiny-tipped pens — and the detail in each of them is as staggering, even as unsettling, as the subject matter they explore. Roll call : death, skulls, demonic entities, random historical settings, nature, and more death. Picking up on a theme here?
This is seriously obsessive work, and I can only speculate on how much time was spent getting every aspect of every drawing exactly right. “A hell of a lot” may not be much of a precise measurement, but it’s nevertheless obviously and undeniably the case here — rest assured, however, that it was “a hell of lot” of time wisely and productively spent, and while I’m not one of these insufferable squares who believes that every artistic project must, by dint of some mysterious but unstated edict, justify its own existence, this one does in every tight, perfectly-placed line. That, right there, is more than enough to warrant a positive review from yours truly.
Which, fair enough, is me giving away the plot here early, but give a jobbing critic a break — there’s no actual plot to analyze or critique in this ‘zine (which at once makes the act of reviewing it less time-consuming, but more difficult, than doing the same for a traditional comic book, to say nothing of a “graphic novel” or big old collected edition of single issues or strips), and so you’ve gotta do something to fill a rather large gap that most write-ups rely upon to — here we go with this idea again — justify their existence. And you and I both know that a simple statement along the lines of “these drawings kick ass, so buy this thing” simply won’t — and shouldn’t — cut it.
That doesn’t mean such a verdict isn’t true, though — and as the visual evidence accompanying these words ably and amply demonstrates, that’s absolutely the case with this one. I mean, this stuff is just plain amazing to look at, a veritable (I’ve done a pretty damn good job of avoiding cliches so far, but that’s about to change) feast for the eyes that both demands and rewards careful and detailed poring-over on the part of all readers — errr, viewers. A solid appreciation of the effort put into these illustrations, as well as of the illustrations themselves, is something you’ll arrive at immediately, but the more time to spend absorbing these pages, the more that appreciation will grow and intensify.
“Flipping through” Buck’s little package of wonders therefore simply won’t cut it — so settle down, settle in, and when all’s said and done, be prepared to settle up. Because we owe this artist a hell of a debt for producing something this breathtakingly intense. I can’t get over how much sheer determination Buck displays here, but fortunately I don’t need to — I’ve got this thing right at the top of a stack of recently-purchased minis, and I can look at it again any time I want to. Which, as it turns out, is pretty damn frequently.
0.03 is available for — you guessed it — three bucks from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/products/0-03
And speaking of cheap purchases, please consider supporting my ongoing work by subscribing to my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Check out the best value in popular (and otherwise) cultural criticism and commentary (even if, hey, I do only say so myself) at https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse