So how did Baltimore spend its first summer in memory without a Whartscape? I can't speak for the entire city, there's some sound evidence of comic book, production. In particular founding Wham Citier Dina Kelberman, who turned time that might otherwise have gone to constructing festival posters and keeping an eye on the crust punks hanging around the parking lot, instead, to releasing the second full collection of her work.
Raising the bar from the prior Important Comics: A Collection of Unquestionable Merit to the somewhat contradictory Important Comics Are Bad, the new book collects some three years of Dina's weekly strips from the Baltimore City Paper. “Strips” being a fairly loose term here — after a year of wedging her minimal inconclusive insights into rectangles to best fit the paper, Dina exploded the frames back into the irregular, kinetic constructions of her non-newspaper work. And in this unconstrained form she's at her finest, capturing with light touch those elusive bits of truth that would be crushed or concealed by a heavier hand. And they're newspaper comics so they're still, you know, funny. Well, at least as often as they're sad.
And if you, like me, find the only thing lacking in newspaper form to be Dina's explosive use of color, well, you're also in luck. She's also got Relax, 12 new pages expressing more specific travails of modern life via watercolor washes and blobs of red paint. Dina calls it her “first foray into long-running narrative”, though it actually recalls her miniaturized teetotalling diary comic from the Wham City Box. Relax, however, is a far more ambitious production.
Both books available direct from the Important Comics website.