Sam Alden: 2013 Ignatz Award Winner and Young Comics Genius | Fanboys Anonymous

Sam Alden: 2013 Ignatz Award Winner and Young Comics Genius

Posted by Unknown Monday, September 23, 2013
Fresh off of his Ignatz win at SPX 2013, I'd like to present Sam Alden. I'm really not sure whether to hug or shake this guy, because everything he makes has such a profound effect on me. What I mean to say is that Sam is a bit of a genius. Whether it's his no-fuss style of cartooning, straight-cut dialogue, or frustratingly simple yet intensely heavy plot, Sam's got me all buggered up. He looks like such a nice guy, but his insides must be tied in knots and shaken so thoroughly that all he can regurgitate is black clouds of graphite and uneasiness.

The front cover to sam alden's newest mini comic household
Cover to Household
Household is Sam's newest comic, which I first heard about through a tweet maybe a week or more ago. I had read Backyard, a mini comic which is still available here, and found it troubling. Not long into Household and I was finding myself experiencing the same complex set of emotions as before and as the story progressed, so did my symptoms. My eyebrows rose, my pupils dilated, and I forgot to breath. Then I came to the last page and had to let it resonate. Then I read it again.

Compositionally, Sam is mainly dealing with the representation of light and shadows bent around gestural forms. No fuss. Its casual and pleasant much like sitting on a park bench in the shade of a tall tree sketching figures passing by. There are points where the shapes are almost abstract, but because of how its laid out, you can generally feel your way through. This is a style so raw we might as well be reading cave paintings. I'm quite positive that what Sam's doing can be replicated on bare stone with a charred stick, but that's not really the point. It's important for the story to be represented in the right style, and for Sam Alden that old graphite stick might as well be a mood machine. Personally, I feel this is his strongest medium, but even whilst straying to a traditional ink, or even digital, much of the characteristic gestural strokes that we see are still utilized. A great example of this can be found here on Top Shelf's 2.0 website in a comic called On Tuesday. Note the looseness primarily in the background and characters not in the immediate foreground.

Download On Tuesday by Sam Alden Online CBR
A panel taken from On Tuesday
What you need to understand is that Sam is really only ever painting you one third of the picture in his books. The art is black and white with messy bits much like the tale's themselves in which there's what looks to be innocent, what you understand is probably wrong, and then there's those messy bits. The lights and darks, the blacks and whites, the good and the bad are clearly defined, but the messy bits are the grey area and a quick examination of the pages will reveal no grey tones used at all. Whenever you are confronted with a question, or something isn't as cut and dry as right and wrong, Sam leaves that controversy to you. There is no guiding hand or bias pushing you either which way, that's on your conscience and for some that's uncomfortable.

Sam is supposedly working on an epic. This actually both excites me and disturbs me simultaneously. I would jump on the chance to read a full length novel by this young genius, but I quiver at the thought of having to take in that much Alden in one shot. It would probably have to be a read a chapter at a time with room to digest between each sitting. What I just described is a fancy, many courses meal which I'm sure it will be. One that I am positive you'd walk away feeling quite full. If it is true, then God speed Mr. Alden. I wish you all the best.

Sonatina Comics Backyard Sam Alden Read Online Storenvy
Panel taken from Backyard
Nowadays, Sam can be found touring at conventions and expo appearances. When he's not out and about, he is also a quite prolific Tumblr and an occasional contributor to the Twitter-sphere. His many works have been spread about the internet, and if you are lucky enough to run into him, try to pick up a mini comic or two and support this budding young talent.

a picture of sam alden taken at the ignatz awards where he won best mini comic

If this is your first time hearing about Sam, drop me a line and let me know what you think. I can't be the only one he drives crazy! *frothing at the mouth*

*cited from

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