Culled from the pages of Providence’s legendary Paper Rodeo from 1995-2001, Fort Thunder alumnus Mat Brinkman’s Multiforce Shit is every bit the collection of curiosities one would expect, given that it’s an “odds and ends” compendium on its face — but who are we kidding here? The words “expect” and “Brinkman” don’t really belong in the same zip code together, much less the same sentence.
Italy’s Hollow Press — who recently issued a handsome, oversized hardcover collection of Brinkman’s Multiforce strips — were wise to go the completist route by assembling all this sidebar “shit” into this top-notch mini with production values to match the quality of its contents (archival quality cream-colored paper, heavy-duty cardstock covers with bronze-embossed exteriors covers and silver-embossed interiors), but this is no mere historical curiosity or relic of days gone by. That would be cool, but hardly essential, and I would submit that any assemblage of “prime era” Brinkman — even if it’s largely composed of quickly-dashed-off stuff — is very essential indeed.
Most of what we have herein falls somewhere in that nebulous and exciting nether-realm that exists somewhere between a sketch and a full-fledged drawing, with some homemade “ads” for Multiforce “proper” at the back, and the extra level of immediacy such “anything goes” material brings to the table both fleshes out and adds depth to our knowledge of Brinkman’s unique creative process at the height of his cartooning prowess — and, given that he was one of Fort Thunder’s unofficial “standard bearers,” we get a privileged look at the often-inspired flotsam and jetsam that was hovering around in the hermetically-sealed zeitgeist of that legendary collective’s heyday. If some of this feels a little bit familiar, then, it’s only because these cartoonists were laying down the gauntlet that other artists spent years attempting to pick up and run with, usually with wildly varying degrees of success. And hey — given that we have no idea when, or even if, Brinkman will ever return to comics, having access to as much of his stuff as possible can only be a good thing, right?
A fair number of these illustrations are suffused with Brinkman’s decidedly off-kilter and bizarre humor, of course, but some seem to make no particular statement at all, funny or otherwise, and to me that stuff — sorry, that shit — might be the most interesting on offer, in that there’s nothing propelling them forward beyond their own ideas and energy. If you’re not into seeing what happens when a cartoonist is just throwing a bunch of (here’s that word again) shit at the walls to see what sticks, then fair enough, this mini may not be for you, but in all honestly you needn’t be a Fort Thunder aficionado to appreciate both the conceptualization and execution of sheer mind-to-hand-to-pen-to-paper creative expression presented on these pages — just someone who appreciates unmediated, unfiltered cartooning for its own sake.
Certainly there’s no way Brinkman ever conceived of any of this as being anything other than more or less spur-of-the-moment stuff, and so it’s necessarily a bit rough around the edges, but that’s also the source of its strong DIY ethos. If it’s in you, get it out — and hey, if folks like it, so much the better. If not, oh well, there’s still no doubt about its sincerity and authenticity. Comics that are made simply because somebody felt like making some comics? It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that, no matter how inexplicable some of those comics may be.
The only thing better than reading or looking at Mat Brinkman’s work is mainlining it straight from his consciousness to your own — until such advanced thought-transfer technology is available, though, this book is the next best thing.
Multiforce Shit is available for $13.00 from Floating World Comics at https://floatingworldcomics.com/shop/art-books/multiforce-shit-by-mat-brinkman
Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by 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. Subscribing is the best way to support my ongoing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse