Chris Russ Returns To Workplace Purgatory In “Eddie The Office Goblin” #2

With the release of issue #2 of his self-published series Eddie The Office Goblin, Michigan-based cartoonist Chris Russ faces the challenge all artists do with their “sophomore outings,” namely : prove that their concept has staying power now that the premise has been established and the unfamiliar is, of necessity, decidedly less so. Whether or not he pulls it off is rather dependent on one’s views of #1 (for the record, I gave it a mostly positive review on this very blog), but even a generous reading of this mini — which I’m inclined toward — would result in a grade of “incomplete,” because even more important than what’s come before, or what’s happening now, is what will happen next.

Which, let me be clear, is no “bad” thing any more than it’s a “good” thing. Russ is playing the proverbial “long game” here, and depending on how all of that shakes out, this is either a vital next step in his narrative, or an overly-long “stop gap” measure between actual occurrences. As somebody who still keeps a metaphorical toe dipped in the mostly-fetid waters of the comics mainstream myself, I’m used to getting hustled by the naked cash-grab that is “decompressed” storytelling, but when we’re talking about a singular cartoonist with a singular style who tells stories in a singular way, well — the jury’s gotta remain out until we have a better, firmer grasp on precisely what a “Chris Russ comic” is.

All of which is my way of saying that not a lot happens in this comic, and it mainly seems to be composed of extended set-up, so how and even if said set-up pays off will determine, entirely in retrospect, whether or not this issue worked. And that’s fine. Eddie’s headed to meet with some swamp creatures in their home environs as a result of his own suggestion to the boss, who wonders why the muck monsters aren’t buying the company’s dubious potions, but before he goes he tangles with a creature in his neighbor’s back yard while he’s mowing it. If the “swamp things” turn out to be cool, and Eddie’s interactions/confrontations with them are well-drawn, fun, and reasonably humorous, then this issue’s all good — with bonus points awarded to Russ if he figures out an expanded role/purpose for that monster in the yard beyond taking up a few pages. If not, well, this will go down a nicely-drawn and exceptionally well-colored waste of time.

So, yeah, let’s talk about the art — I dig Russ’ clean lines, inventive character designs, richly vibrant hues, and inventive-but-traditional page layouts. He still has a few things to learn about the economics of sequential pacing — certain key moments are given short shrift while others of less import are given entire pages, for instance — but on the whole, he knows how to put together a nice-looking mini. He’s got a legit autuer sensibility, but within his own singular look, feel, and approach there remain some kinks to be worked out before I’m ready to say he’s 100% successful at what he’s doing. They key thing is, though, that he’s earned the right to maintain my interest.

That may sound like a modest achievement, true, yet I assure you it’s anything but : I get way more minis and ‘zines sent to me than I can possibly find the time to review, so you’re doing something right — or at least right enough — if I review and recommend your book. There’s plenty of potential in this series — some of it realized, some of it less so — and as Russ gets his feet planted more firmly under himself, expectations will rise in line with what he’s delivered on to date. I’m not ready to say his second issue is an “improvement” on the first — time will be the judge of that — but it’s not a step back, and I’ll be down to give #3 a go whenever that’s ready, not only for its own sake, but because it will offer a clearer idea of whether or not #2 was successful at what it needed to do.

If, then, you’re deciding whether or not to buy this comic, I’d say go for it, with the understanding that any payoff it offers is delayed for the time being. But isn’t that the case for serialized fiction in any number of media?

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Eddie The Office Goblin #2 is available for $3.50 directly from Chris Russ at https://gumroad.com/chrisrusscomics

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 continuing work, so I’d be very pleased if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

Work Is Hell : “Eddie The Office Goblin” #1

Work is a death trap, and we all know it. If your job doesn’t kill you directly, it’ll likely kill you indirectly — either by means of stress-related conditions such as ulcers, repeated-motion fatigue and attendant joint decomposition/arthritis, heart disease, various work-induced cancers or, in a pinch, maybe you’ll get yourself killed in a car accident going to work, from work, or to or from some other place, such as a bar, hoping to forget about work for a little while. However you slice it, the minute you start punching a time clock, that clock is ticking against you.

In some cases, however, the connection between employment and death is a pretty straight line — like, what if your workplace literally sits atop a portal to hell? Which brings us to the first self-published mini (that I’m aware of, at any rate) from Michigan-based cartoonist Chris Russ, Eddie The Office Goblin #1.

Physically, it’s an impressive enough little specimen — full-color, fairly nice paper — but it’s Russ’ unhinged imagination that really helps this stand out from the pack, as he unfurls the contents of his id to give us an office that includes such accoutrements as talking statues, doorways made of skulls, multi-eyed and Cyclopean demons, lava sharks, and blank-featured wraiths. He renders all of these in a crisp and inviting style, complete with colored pencil- and Crayon-style hues, and while pretty much every figure he conjures forth is humanoid in appearance, none of them appear to be strictly human, per se.

Still, even for all the ghosts and goblins (including, of course, our ostensible hero), it’s the ever-present spectre of the clock and the schedule that is the most frightening monster of all here, as is the case with any workplace. After all, whoever is in control of your time is in control of your life — and anyone who wants that degree of power over you is a true ghoul, whether they look the part or not.

So, yeah — points for originality here, even if much of it is originality in service of pointing out a number of fairly obvious truisms. Where Russ runs into a bit of trouble, however, is with his pacing and narrative flow — these are skills that take any cartoonist some time to develop, so I’m willing to sit back and see how his maturate over time, but we’ve got splash pages here that would be better off as smaller panels on multi-panel pages on the one hand, smaller panels on multi-panel pages that would be better off as splash pages on the other, and some curious choices in terms of depth and perspective in certain images. None of these are “deal-breakers,” as the saying goes, but taken in total they make for something of a disjointed reading experience that’s likely a few pages longer than it needs to be — even if it’s fairly short as is. Still, in the end (for now, at ay rate) he does get us from A to B and leaves us with a reasonably juicy cliffhanger.

So what the heck? I’m down for more, and fully expect that “more” will continue to improve. I’ll also be reading subsequent issues while I’m on the clock at work, just as I did with this one.

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I’m not sure how much Chris Russ charges for a single issue of Eddie The Office Goblin, but you can ask him — as well as check out some more sample pages — by going over to his twitter page, which can be found at https://twitter.com/ChrisJRuss

Review wrist check – Monta “Atlas” blue dial model riding a BluShark green and red “Pajama Stretch” strap.