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

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