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The amazing work of Graham Annable, AKA "Grickle"

About a month ago I came across this Reddit post, "Totally creeped out by a cartoon." The link pointed to The Hidden People, a short YouTube video by artist Graham "Grickle" Annable. Turn on your audio and watch it:

I thought that was brilliant, so I had to check more of this guy's work. He has a few more shorts on his YouTube channel. They're all good, even though the first ones repeat the same joke, it's still quite amusing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Space Wolf

Day Off

The Last Duet on Earth

Botched

Zoo

In his animated shorts, Grickle often uses Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima" for kicking up the creep factor, but there's more than creepiness and humor in Grickle's work.

More than just amusing

After watching all of his videos, I decided to explore more of his work. He has a few drawings and comics up in his blog and his Flickr account, and a quick Google search reveals a few of his comics online as well.

By then I was convinced of his worth, and decided to buy one of his books: The Book of Grickle published by Dark Horse Comics. It arrived today, and I eagerly read all of it in a single sitting. Twice. It was damn good!

The thing is, Grickle has an unusual and refreshing style of storytelling. While his drawings and themes are minimalist and sparse, they are very subtly expressive and well drawn, but carrying a whole lot of depth. His work has been described as "comic book poetry," and I honestly can't sum it up better myself.

In "Commercial Success", Grickle makes a commentary on how most of our lives and daily interests involve commercial products one way or the other, and how certain great things are just too good to be branded or sold.

He manages to be extremely profound, moving and entertaining, page after page, using nothing but snapshots of anonymous, generic characters that tell us more about ourselves and human nature than you'd expect. The stories always seem to build upon those subtle nonevents of normal life, sometimes with a twist, sometimes with a deeper commentary, but sometimes not. And that feels more than enough.

It is not uncommon for an entire page to be devoted to a silent moment of a character's curiosity or discomfort, which not only brings characters to life, but adds a new hint to something more meaningful than a cheap laugh. It's amazing!

I can't help but be reminded of Scott McCloud's Big Triangle, in which he describes how abstract characters are more effective at connecting with the reader. But it's not just visuals, it's the details of situations, and not the situations themselves, that Grickle use to captivate. It is very effective, and I haven't seen anyone doing that as well as he has.

All in all, reading Grickle is a great experience in every sense of the word, and to me this was the beginning of a long appreciation for this guy's work.

But wait, there's more

Currently, Graham Annable is the creative director at Telltale Games. They have recently released the pilot "episode" for a game based on his work. Since it was so cheap, I decided to try it out too.

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is a fun little puzzle/adventure game based on the "Grickle mythos", including the Hidden People. The game successfully captured the gist of Grickle's art and humor. While some of the puzzles are rather easy, the game certainly has a lot of potential. Here's hoping for more of it.

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