Local Hero Comics: Vessel by Cat Dossett
Local Heroes Comics is a new feature I’ve created which will review works by small press cartoonists. Initially I’ll be focusing on Boston and New England area cartoonists, but since every comics creator is local somewhere, I will eventually focus on talent beyond my hometown. If you are interested in having your work considered, you can wait for me to find your work, or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my favorite kinds of minicomic is the cartoon diary. It gives the artist an opportunity to show off their skills through a series of vignettes that don’t necessarily need to be connected. Unlike the first chapter of a story that may not ever be continued, a series of drawn diary entries can at least feel self-contained. It’s also a better format to experiment and figure out what works and what doesn’t in your craft.
All these factors make comic diaries a solid intro for any new reader of any up and coming artist. It works the same way that 12 page chapbooks do for poets. Perhaps not coincidentally, Vessel, the diary comic by poet, editor and artist Cat Dosset, is an impressive and fully realized work for what appears to be her first comic collection.
Vessel was published with the help of Boston’s Pen and Anvil Press, where Dossett serves as Chapbook Editor (full disclosure: I know and have worked many people from Pen and Anvil ). They put out great collections from a number of people. Vessel, like most of their books, is available both in print version and as PDF files on the Pen and Anvil web page. As much as I’d like you to support the artist by buying a copy at Million Year Picnic, I have to say that I was impressed how the file version maintains the spirit of the comic (some major comic companies can’t even do their Kindle books justice).
Vessel chronicles Dossett’s emotional journey after a break up, only able to concentrate on watching movies (and her comics) while in the bathtub. All that information is in her comic’s intro, which doesn’t feel necessary. Dossett smoothly conveys all this information in her work, from the sparse writing to her ingenious structure of the three panel format most of her comics follow in this book. The tiny images on a mostly white space masterfully express the speaker’s claustrophobic environment that restricts her yet allows her to function. What words that exist on each page are not for our benefit but for Dossett’s, separate and broken free from the author’s self-confinement if only to tell her story so that she may rejoin the world for a time.
With so many instances over the years of poetry mixing with comics, it would be great if Pen and Anvil put out more works like Vessel to also stand alongside equally with their text-only works. I like Pen and Anvil’s first foray into this and hope to read similar works from Dossett soon.