The Assassin & The Whiner
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Assassin & The Whiner #9
The Assassin & The Whiner #9 (c) Carrie McNinch
The Assassin & The Whiner #9 © Carrie McNinch

The Assassin & The Whiner
Carrie McNinch.

Mail pages

ZUM!#10: Assassin & The Whiner#2

What is it about comics people (or should that be 'comix people'?) that compels them to do strips about their lives? Is it because they want to further the medium itself, by breaking it out of it's stereotyped subject matter? Or is it because it's cheaper than therapy? My opinion is that they do it because the readers send them letters telling them how great they are and how they, like, empathise with the artists' crappy life (I've never seen an autobio strip by someone who hasn't got a crappy life, though maybe that's just my narrow spectrum of experience).
Of it's type, I suppose, Assassin & Whiner is quite good. Ms McNinch usually uses the 'first person-talking head' type strip, so you can see how her expressions relate to her words. I can see how a lot of people would really like this stuff, comix people being into fringe-cultures. The main problem with 'Asswhine' (so it's called by the cognoscenti), is that you really have be 'into' this, and to be interested in the minutiae of the life of a slightly-above average person. Not wanting to sound misanthropic (well, there's a first time for everything), I'd really want to know her 'better' before I could care that much about her life. This probably means that I'd have to read all the previous eight issues, and maybe not even then.
You have to admire Ms McNinch for laying her life and her problems bare to whomever is reading her strip (those of us without her artistic talents have to make do with poxy web diaries.), but it doesn't do a great deal for me. If you 'go' for autobio comix, so to speak, I'd say send her a dollar. If you don't, I'd say try before you buy, as it were, if you can.
Matthew Lawrenson

Assassin & The Whiner #14
The Assassin & The Whiner #14 (c) Carrie McNinch

The Assassin & The Whiner #14 © Carrie McNinch
Having been away from comics for a while, I haven't previously come across Carrie McN (based in LA when this was created in mid-2000). The material presented here covers a five-month period, and I hope she's still as prolific, as this is a highly engaging and thought-provoking comic.
The material, mostly in two or three page strips, is roughly divided between fairly straightforward – but insightful – autobio vignettes (such as bumping into the girl on whom she had her first crush at school, and having to go on her first-ever bra shopping trip, after weight loss has made her boobs sag), and other aspects of her life looked at in a more poetic, metaphorical way. This latter category includes her libido being stolen by a cheeky imp, and facing an enormous staircase that stands between Carrie and where she wants to be.
Some of this material is quite dark, as Carrie worries about how much she's drinking or her perceived disconnection from the world, but it's delivered in a solid, pleasingly confident graphic style, which gives the lighter pieces a nice narrative bounce, and prevents the darker pieces from collapsing under their own weight.
One three-page piece in particular stands out. Against full-page backdrops of roads in the LA Hills, Carrie comes to terms with some unspecified act of betrayal or abuse that 'involved' her. As she passes through rage and sadness, she comes to appreciate that the depth of the emotions that she was feeling is what makes us human, ending on the forward-looking note that, "The ability to feel is the ability to live, and, after all, isn't that what life is all about?"
As this work is over three years old, Carrie McN might be doing something totally different by now, but I hope she's still making comics with the same blend of intensity, craft, charm, verve and insight. And I hope she's happy!
Tom Murphy
The Assassin & The Whiner
16 22x11cm pages.
24 22x11cm pages.
Price: $1 each (P+P)
Address: Carrie McNinch, PO Box 481051, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.
Received at ZUM! HQ:
#9: no info
#14: 16i03
Review Posted:
#9: 24vi01
#14: 1viii03
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