Two From David Craig : “Brick Breaks Free”

Point one : it seems to me that if there’s one thing that a cartoonist needs if they want to be successful in the short humor strip game, it’s cleverness. I mean, yeah, you’ve gotta be able to draw, and an inherent sense of comic timing helps considerably, but without the added spark that cleverness brings to the equation, more often than not your strips are either going to miss the mark by that small but crucial degree, or else fail to land altogether. And the surest sign that you’re going to be reading a clever strip is if, of course, it has a clever premise. Which brings us to —

Point two : nothing is more utilitarian than a brick, yet they never seen to get the credit they deserve. For instance, last summer we had to re-do the brick walls on our house, and while the whole process — labor, materials, etc. — certainly wasn’t cheap, I felt like the bricks themselves somehow, I dunno, deserved better than to only cost about 50 cents apiece. I mean, come on — they were literally the backbone of the entire project, but they were the cheapest part about the whole thing. Where, I ask you, is the respect?

Okay, admittedly the preceding two paragraphs may seem to bear no relation to one another in any way, shape, or form, but here’s where I prove to you that I’m not, as the saying goes, one brick shy of a full load — Canadian cartoonist David Craig, one-third of the Read More Comix collective, has concocted an ingeniously clever premise that finally gives the brick (or a brick, at any rate) its due, and his collection Brick Breaks Free is pretty much guaranteed to leave you suitably impressed if you’re a humor strip fan — which I’m assuming most readers here are. So let’s talk about it a little.

Colorful, lively, well-illustrated, and perfectly paced for maximum comedic effect, the punchy little yarns in this ‘zine feature our protagonist brick — and, occasionally, other bricks — hitting the beach, playing golf, going to the carnival, bathing, bowling, and even exploring outer space, among other activities, and by inserting the most overlooked of objects into time-honored comic situations ranging from the everyday to the absurd, Craig manages to create a series of just-askew-enough takes on things we can all relate to without taxing our brains too heavily. It’s “comfort cartooning,” to be sure, but what of it? I mean, these are tough times, and if something comes along that gives me a non-stop supply of wry chuckles, I’m not gonna say no to that. Nor should you.

Where Craig proves he’s more than a one-brick — sorry, one-trick — pony, though, is with the nominally longer strips contained herein, such as the titular number, which actually makes some salient points about “redevelopment” and gentrification, and the volume’s closer, “Brick Lends Support,” which shows our erstwhile hero giving folks a helping hand (yes, Brick has two of them, just like me and you) simply because it’s the right thing to do. Bricks are utilitarian in the extreme as I mentioned earlier (not that you didn’t already know as much anyway), but seeing them utilized in new and unexpected ways takes some real ingenuity, and Craig consistently impresses on that score. Hell, it’s entirely fair to say that he’s made me respect bricks even more than I already did.

As will you if you do the smart thing and give this fun, smart, charming little brick-shaped comic a go. It features strips created between 2017-2019, but who are we kidding? It’s not like this concept really “ages” in any appreciable way — Read More has, in fact, recently published a second volume, as seen directly above, that I’ll deal with in my next review — which only goes to show that Craig has hit on a timeless idea here, one that’s obvious enough for probably anyone to think of, but also one that’s (here’s that word again) clever enough to make you wonder why no one ever did before.

*********************************************************************************************************

Brick Breaks Free is, curiously enough, not available on the Read More Comix website, but you can get it for $10 from Silver Sprocket at https://store.silversprocket.net/products/brick-breaks-free-by-david-craig

Review wrist check – Zodiac “Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation” in burnt orange.