Sparkplug Highlights: Tales of Tiger Balm, by Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi
The first thing that stands out about Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi’s hilarious comic Tales of Tiger Balm! is the fact that it looks like the coolest newspaper you’ve ever seen– it’s 11.5″ x 14″, on newsprint, and has a gloriously colored cover that includes tigers, flames, flowers, a jar of Tiger Balm, and a triptych of two Ariyanas scratching their rashy skin into oblivion and a third, covered in Tiger Balm, crying in painful ecstasy. Her drawings are highly textured, joyful, and heavily inspired by Asian art. The inside of the comic (though uncolored) is just as rich and funny, featuring six full pages detailing Ariyana’s experiences using Tiger Balm to soothe her eczema, musings on the origin and ingredients of Tiger Balm, a behind-the-scenes look at the month she spent creating the comic, and a meditation on her heritage and parents’ vast, mysterious collection of old Chinese medicine. The back cover is just as interesting as the front: in color once again, it takes the form of a cabinet of curiosities, displaying some of the most interesting finds Ariyana has pilfered from her parents’ Chinese medicine hoard. Her attention to detail, really put to work in depicting these tiny bottles, labels, powders, pills, tins, and jars, is exquisite. Tales of Tiger Balm! gives you a lot for your two dollars and serves as a great introduction to Ariyana’s work if you’ve never had a chance to see it before. And, if you love this comic as much as we do, be sure to grab a copy of her contribution–issue #2–to the Sparkplug Minis series, debuting at CAKE (the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo) on May 31st-June 1st!