Pete Hodapp recently won the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics
for his book The Possum and The Pepper Spray, so I was excited to check out his work. It’s immediately obvious that Hodapp is toiling away at his craft with a unique sense of design when you see the newsprint style, flip cover, and patterned texture that this book achieves. From the mainstream Wednesday Comics offering at DC, to Brendan Leach’s brilliant Pterodactyl Hunters recently, there seems to be a resurgence in newspaper style construction and print. I loved the handwritten letter Hodapp included with the review copy, with self-effacing mini-bio statements like “I live in Southwestern Wisconsin, basically in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to make a comic based more on rural life. I’m kinda’ tired of reading comics about folks in New York looking for an apartment.” The intro strips are a little hard to read, with the size of the text very small and feeling very crammed together, but the points they make are stellar. Creators create. Writers write. Sure, we all want to be better, but there’s nothing to wait for. You don’t wait for inspiration to strike and then go for it, you start your project first and hopefully somewhere along the way the muse visits. It’s a little counterintuitive, but that’s a fact. “The Market Tanks & Everyone Has a Plan” is a brilliant little strip that captures the microcosm of personalities in society and how they engage the world around them. There are portions of the book that call to mind the aesthetic of Charles Burns or David Lapham, with thick inky lines realistically capturing moments in time. There were quite a few typos lurking about, one even in the title of a piece, but who would have thought that a piece about garbage (Dump Troll) could teach a person to see the world from the POV of another. I really liked the human touch present in Hodapp’s work, with wavering obviously hand drawn panels. Housing & Birds is an expansive double page spread with 88 panels all the same size, telling the epic story of journey over destination, learning is the goal, the process is the point. It’s capped off with a spot illo titled “Urban vs. Rural,” which is well designed, and at the end of it all, it’s no wonder that James Sime (proprietor of San Francisco’s Isotope – The Comics Lounge) and crew tagged one of Hodapp’s works as the best of the year. Grade A.