Rust City 1 - 3
Various Artists Rust City Comix

These Rust City Annuals are meaty collections of "adults only" craziness, toons, and short pieces by local cartoonists. Each annual is also spiced with text pieces, sketchbook excerpts, cut-outs (dolls, a flip book...), and, in the newly released third volume, even a profile on a local sculptor. Each annual is varied, with art ranging from high-school-y to professional, but there's a high content of humor (I'm talkin' sick humor) and defiance.

There is some talk in Rust City's third annual about changing the format from magazine-sized "Kinko's bound" tomes to a smaller, slicker comic book version. Since Rust City's comics are going-against-the-grain, shocking, and sickening (to the average Joe super-hero fan), I think this current, alternative format works just fine. Each underground annual gets thicker (with the latest anthology grab-bag sporting about 150 pages), the presentation (tasty contents pages) gets classier, and the subjects and styles become more varied.

Rust City Annual #3 has quite a few highlights. Webster Colcord's "Insane Boy in Action," a do-it-yourself flip book, steals the show with crisp, hilarious agony and violence. Aaron Lamont scripts a misanthropic, alcoholic vignette illustrated by local hero Jim "Caffeine" Hill. Hill has a unique, simple style that just plain sucks you into 18 disturbing pages of drunken hopelessness. Rush City regulars Steve Hess and Spider Moccasin contribute illustrated, autobiographical text pieces, with Hess writing Harvey Pekar-like about the music that he listened to throughout various stages of his life and Mocassin writing about art school.

Rust City has several things going for it: a dedicated staff with boundless creative energy, a slew of contributing artists with varying styles and themes, and a "no-taboos," in-yer-face code of artistic freedom. From the experimental to the stylized, from silly toilet humor to political/social jabs, the Rust City nexus is one of prolific artistry, showing off what Portland has.

You can hear brains buzzing and sketchbooks being filled with notions for next year's annual. You can contact the Rust City crew at P.O. Box 25476, Portland, OR 97298-0476.

The Playboy
Chester Brown
Drawn and Quarterly Publications

Chester Brown's Playboy graphic novel explores a teen-ager's obsession with the exotic world of adult magazines and the paranoid guilt that plagues him.

Written with honesty and almost embarrassing candor, Brown details the lengths he goes to to acquire pornography, his turn-ons and masturbatory habits, and his frantic attempts to get rid of each magazine. This 170-page confessional isn't as involved as "I Never Liked You," Chester Brown's other autobiographical graphic novel, but it's fascinating to see how an intelligent adult remembers this irrational, hormone-driven phase of his life. Sometimes it's rough to be a sensitive young man, especially with parents, society, and religion yelling guilt trips in your ears.

Chester Brown's cartooning style is detailed when he wants it to be and simple when it needs to be. Brown's currently working on a series entitled "Underwater," also published by Drawn and Quarterly.

Thanks to Counter Media at 927 SW Oak in Portland for the loan.

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