Mercy Seat #1

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Mercy Seat #1 Creator(s): Gord Cummings
Publishers: Vicious Ambitious
From: T2K555
Price: Canadian $ 4.00

This first edition is actually a follow up to his earlier comic “Quality of Mercy” that was published in 2004.

On the very first page of this comic Gord unashamedly links his comic with the introspective works of Harvey Peaker. The creator expresses his nerves about doing this and acknowledges the danger of setting himself up through such a comparison but the honesty is appreciated by the reader as it lets us know exactly where this comic is coming from. Appropriately this first page has the creator speaking directly to us the reader. In a way this encapsulates the tone of the entire comic, we are invited into the world and mind of Gord Cummings, the relationship is a direct and honest one. So yes the similarities with Pekar are genuine and obvious.

It is true that in places Gord actually does reach ‘Pekaresque’ heights but often he just falls short. The main reason for this shortfall is that all too often the specific strips are just too introspective, the narrative is too internalized and becomes little more than a contemplative, reflective rant.

Pekar’s strips nearly always have an external impetus or reference that provides a point of entry for the reader, at times Gord’s strips lack that point of connection with the real world. At times the navel gazing overpowers the tale.

Where they do work though they are fascinating and often very funny.
“Mercy Seat” contains 8 separate reflective stories. All are written by Gord but illustrated by a variety of artists. The collection of styles works very well.
My personal favourite is the story, ‘Pee’ concerned as it is with childhood and the need to pee at school. The artwork is confident and the narrative realistic and engaging. The nervy child’s emotions and fears are realistically captured and laid bare for all of us to see and feel.

The longer ‘My Secret Identity’ also works well in the way it starts off with some introspective reflection but moves to make valid social comments, the final one page frame is particularly effective.

The best laugh out loud moment comes late in the comic with the dancing condom though. It’s a great visual treat.
A couple of typos spoil what is a very professional looking comic and I question some of the fonts utilised as they are too generic for the eclectic art on display here.

There aren’t many comics that proudly feature middle aged men with beards and for that reason alone ‘Mercy Seat’ needs to be embraced.

In a Word: Inward.

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