Tim Hensley’s TICKET STUB is a collection of the cartoonist’s now-defunct zine, but that zine was really pages from his sketchbook. Don’t let that deter you in any way, however, because it has a theme and a point.
The backstory: For 10 years, Hensley worked as a closed-captioning typist for movies and TV shows. In his sketchbook, he would draw random scenes from said programming. Those pages became TICKET STUB the zine, and all eight issues now stand united like conjoined twins in TICKET STUB the book.
For those who love indie comics, oddball ideas or the medium of film — or, better yet, all three — the paperback will bring many a smile, and not just for its charming, wholly appropriate die-cut along the bottom edge. (That had to be an unnecessary expense for Yam Books, especially for such an upstart publisher, but damn, am I glad they sprung for it — a creative decision that just feels right.)
The scenes Hensley illustrates are not iconic; they appear to be chosen as haphazardly (if “chosen” is the correct term) as the films, which range from highbrow to lowbrow, classic to trash, beloved to obscure, BUTTERFIELD 8 to BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE.
Each is accompanied by a few lines of Hensley’s own contribution. Some double as actual description, such as this bit on HERCULES IN NEW YORK: “A bear costume escapes the zoo and meets their carriage. Hilarity ensues — an Olympian in a taxi, or rather, a chariot, flexes. He kicks the shit out of sailors, drivers, mobsters. He cracks ribs.”
Most, however, read like bad poetry on open-mic night, and in this case, that’s a good thing indeed. Witness his words for THE CARE BEARS MOVIE: “Bereft of pals, gather a gumshoe, a cigar between the plush pandas, a black widow knit near the wagon wheel and share — the clouds and rainbows mar with crevice. The witch concurs.”
The final issue takes a detour by stringing the panels together into a comic, but with invented dialogue. Why else, where else, would Casper the Friendly Ghost greet a girl with, “I was shot in my crib. Do I give you goose flesh?”
If you’re only familiar with Hensley — as I was — through his retro-teen-comics work à la WALLY GROPIUS, note that this art does not resemble that art. The drawings here — far more fleshed-out than the word “sketchbook” suggests — demonstrate a different skill set and wider range. The witch concurs. —Rod Lott