Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Is Your Diary Comic About?

A few weeks ago, I finally got myself a good old fashioned library card and got to work abusing the interlibrary loan system. It's been a great opportunity to catch up on my print comics (an area where I'm woefully underdeveloped), and how Ariel Schrag has walked into my reading life.

Ariel Schrag is a famous (and I suppose, if you went to high school with her, infamous) writer of autobiographical comics. Following each year of high school, Schrag made a comic detailing her experiences: Awkward and Definition detail freshman and sophomore years, Potential junior year, and Likewise senior year. What's remarkable about the books isn't just their much-touted frankness about sex and drugs, but how cohesive each volume feels. These could have easily been a series of random adventures, but they're not. They feature arcs on Schrag's evolving sexual identity, her romantic and platonic relationships, her parents' crumbling marriage, her personal academic quests, and how the comic comes to dominate her thoughts and interactions. Sure, it sometimes goes in frustrating directions (a great deal of Ariel's high school life revolves around Sally, her obviously straight sometimes-girlfriend), but there's always the sense that you're skimming the cream off the top of someone's high school experience, drinking in the most emotionally potent moments of those years.

I've found myself reading a lot of autobiographical and diary comics lately. I am now an official devotee of Julia Wertz's The Fart Party, and finally read Jeffrey Brown's Clumsy, Lucy Knisley's French Milk, and Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage (I'm told I'm a little behind the times). In addition to my daily diet of American Elf and Ellerbisms, I've added Adam Cadwell's The Everyday (soon to be ended) and Shazzbaa Bennett's Today Nothing Happened. And, of course there's Jeffrey Rowland's Overcompensating, if you consider that autobiography and not unrestrained lunacy based on some distant fact. I still get a little choked up when I remember DAR! stopped running.

One of my favorite new entries in the autobio comics ring is Stop Paying Attention, a series of graphic essays by Lucy Knisley. If you missed French Milk, you might know Knisley from the Doctor Octopus story she did for Marvel's Girl Comics. Knisley has a remarkable talent for visual language, and Stop Paying Attention is a wonderful showcase (I especially love the piece on her imminent breakup).

I rather hope that Knisley takes some time to experiment with her content. Essay-writing can easily lend itself to gross abstraction and navel-gazing, and it's nice to see that Knisley's last few comics have been so grounded.

But so many autobiographical demand some sort of a narrative, or else they risk become a mere exercise, something that may be of great value to the artist, but won't really connect with a readership. Although I've long subscribed to The Everyday, it's more what I would consider a "portfolio comic." Adam Cadwell is obviously a gifted artist -- his drawings are precise, expressive, and awesomely detailed. But there's no story to it, no evolution of its protagonist/author. We don't even get much of a sense of Adam himself. Cadwell recently announced that he'll be ending The Everyday at strip #200 to work on longer form stories. I can't say I'm unhappy to see it go if we finally get to see Cadwell's pretty pictures in context.

But what gives a diary comic that sense of structure? Are writers obligated to find the plot in their own lives? The Everyday's companion comic (brother comic? best friend who buys you chocolate biscuits comic?) is Ellerbisms, a comic I've written about a couple of times. Ellerbisms began in more of a portfolio comic mode, but became more rooted as a relationship blossomed between creator Marc Ellerby and his girlfriend Anna. Not every comic is about Anna and Ellerby has never spelled out the progression of their relationship, but it gave the comic a sense of identity that it previously lacked.

On the other hand, an underlying theme isn't essential. James Kochalka has said that his quest in making American Elf is to capture the rhythm of life, something he attempts in the span of a single square each day. Remarkably, it works; through that series of colorful squares, we get a watercolory sense of Kochalka's daily life. We see his temper tantrums, his intimate moments. We're watching his kids grow up and his bursts of strange creative energy. Yes, we get flashes of big deal life stuff -- his wife's miscarriage, concern over a friend's drinking -- but they never form the backbone of the comic. Instead, reading American Elf, one gets the sense that they are being wrapped up in Kochalka's magical view of his own life.

The comic that got me thinking about this -- about whether diary comics need to be about something in particular -- is Shazzbaa Bennett's Today Nothing Happened. I read an ArtPatient review of TNH a while back, and it's been in my reader ever since. Shazzbaa is one of those infuriating people who makes energetic cartooning look effortless, an TNH has a lot to recommend it: a consistent aesthetic, a strong cast of characters, a solid sense of timing, and a set of recurring themes.

Shazzbaa was a sequential art major at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and she started TNH as a class assignment. It follows that much of TNH chronicles the events in the life of a SCAD student. Shazzbaa takes a game design class. She fights with the 3D rendering software. She pulls all-nighters to finish her thumbnailing assignment. To someone who never attended art school, it's pretty fascinating stuff. Of course, art school doesn't dominate every strip; there are plenty of D&D sessions and meals with friends. But "the adventures of a SCAD sequential art student" provided a nice anchor for the comic.

Then Shazzbaa graduated. TNH continued to be a very well-done comic of amusing individual pages. Shazzbaa learning how to drive. Shazzbaa going shopping with her mom. Shazzbaa visiting friends. Shazzbaa still playing the D&D. But for a while, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. Here Shazzbaa had been this rocking art student -- so what happens next? Where does her career go from here? I was relieved to at long last see the latest TNH development: Shazzbaa looks for a day job. I just hope we'll get more peeks into her artistic job stuff as well. It may seem crass to reduce someone's life to plot arcs and narrative threads, but for a young cartoonist living at home in a down economy, day jobs and the career path ahead are a big part of life. It seems odd not to see them on the page.

But the best thing about the comics that work is how much they don't feel like performance art. For all of Shazzbaa's wonderful energy, you never get the sense that she's putting on a show. In The Fart Party, Julia Wertz creates a character around herself, but she isn't afraid to reveal her vulnerabilities and her dorkier private moments. And the love story we see in Ellerbisms seems to stem from nothing more than Ellerby's affection for Anna and his desire to share that portion of his life. Diary and autobio comics entertain and offer insight into the creators' lives, but it would be depressing if they depicted the adventures of a series of dancing monkeys.

Overcompensating, of course, gets a pass on that front.

26 comments:

James Stallings said...

I am wondering what did you mean by "abusing the interlibrary loan system". Please enlighten me. Thanks!click here.

Anonymous said...

First impression is the last impression as correctly said, if you want to enhance your work chances you should register for online degree programs these programs are reasonable. Persons who have knowledge it, they can buy a degree from an accredited college with the help of online programs.

Jianbin Jianbin said...

jianbin1028
futbol baratas
adidas outlet store
nike running shoes
puma shoes
giuseppe zanotti sale
ugg uk outlet
wedding dresses
nfl jerseys wholesale
tory burch sandals
soccer jerseys,soccer jerseys wholesale,soccer jerseys cheap,soccer jerseys for sale,cheap soccer jersey,usa soccer jersey,football jerseys
ugg outlet
ugg outlet
toms outlet
pandora outlet
adidas jeremy scott
lebron 12
chanel handbags
hollister shirts
true religion outlet,true religion jeans,true religion kids,true religion jeans sale,true religion jeans for men,true religion jacket,true religion sale
mbt sneakers
cyber monday
louboutin uk
christian louboutin shoes
moncler outlet
ysl outlet online
air jordan 4 free shipping
mulberry,mulberry handbags,mulberry outlet,mulberry bags,mulberry uk
canada goose outlet
roshe run women
true religion jeans
new england patriots
marc jacobs outlet

Northdallas Towing said...

Very Nice Information, Thanks For Posting
Please visit my site for best service on-
www.northdallastowingservices.com

Nocost Move said...

Thanks For Sharing Such As Useful Information.
Please visit on my site for Move For Free, Apartment Locator, Apartment For Rent & Sale on -
http://nocostmove.com/
http://nocostmove.com/uptown-dallas-apartments

Dong Dong said...

20161.12wengdongdong
louis vuitton borse
michael kors outlet
air max 95
ugg outlet
michael kors handbags
louboutin
juicy couture
canada goose uk
michael kors handbags
mcm
michael kors
canada gooses outlet
michael kors outlet
canada goose jackets
michael kors
rolex replica watches
jordan retro 3
ralph lauren outlet
nike huarache
michael kors outlet
nike blazers
adidas originals
nike air max 90
new balance outlet
nike outlet store
tory burch outlet
tiffany jewelry
michael kors outlet
gucci outlet
michael kors
louis vuitton handbags
louboutin
michael kors outlet
ray ban sunglasses
ugg sale
air jordans
coach factory outlet online
ghd
michael kors outlet
air jordans

柯云 said...

2016-01-29keyun
adidas superstar shoes
pandora jewelry
beats by dr dre
toms outlet
hollister jeans
coach factory
ralph lauren sale
lebron 13
christian louboutin shoes
tory burch outlet
ray ban sunglasses
nike free 5.0
kate spade outlet
canada goose outlet
air max 95
toms shoes
cheap toms
sunglasses oakley
coach outlet store online clearance
polo outlet
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton outlet online
coach outlet
abercrombie and fitch
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin outlet
chanel outlet
hollister clothing
coach outlet
chanel bags
swarovski crystal
oakley vault
louis vuitton
hollister kids
hollister clothing
timberlands
lebron 12
ebron james shoes 13
red bottom shoes

Penjual Herbal said...

proses pencegahan sebagai Obat alat vital sakit ini juga perlu dibantu dari orang-orang yang ahli di dalamnya sehingga pencegahan tersebut efektif dan bisa sesuai dengan sasaran, silahkan baca selengkapnya . Penyakit kanker payudara bisa disembuhkan jika ditangani sejak dini dengan Obat herbal kanker payudara . Anda harus mengetahui gejala-gejala kanker payudara agar anda dapat mengobatinya sebelum terlambat silahkan baca selengkapnya . Tapi jika anda sudah terlanjur terkena penyakit ini, maka pengobatan yang harus dilakukan dengan Obat kutil di alat vital , lebih lengkapnya silahkan baca selengkapnya . Sebelum membicarakan tentang Obat kutil di daerah alat vital , sebenarnya ada hal lain yang lebih penting dari hal itu, yakni tindakan pencegahan silahkan baca selengkapnya . bila kita melihat lebih jauh dan meneliti beberapa kasus yang ada Obat keluar nanah di kelamin yang paling manjur adalah pencegahan sejak dini, silahkan baca selengkapnya . Dan ternyata ada Obat herbal wasir yang secara alami masih bisa dikonsumsi, silahkan silahkan baca selengkapnya .

Chen Jeje said...

air jordan retro
discount oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
oakley sunglasses
toms outlet store
nfl jerseys
oakley sunglasses
cheap uggs
michael kors outlet online
Michael Kors Purses
Cheap Jordans For Sale
ray ban sunglasses outlet
huaraches shoes
nfl jerseys
michael kors outlet online
tiffany and co jewelry
cheap basketball shoes
huaraches shoes
ralph lauren polo shirts
chrome hearts online store
chrome hearts wholesale
michael kors handbags
black huaraches
cheap air jordan
cheap true religion jeans
mlb jerseys authentic
kobe sneakers
christian louboutin outlet
tiffany jewellery

MD TAUQEER said...

happy diwali sms
happy diwali
diwali images
happy new year 2017
new year shayari
new year images
happy navratri
independence day sms
raksha bandhan sms
online sbi personal banking
happy birthday wishes
free web hosting
pnb net banking activation
sol result
metro card recharge

Mushtaq ahmed said...

sbi personal banking

MD TAUQEER said...

happy new year 2017 scrap

Mushtaq ahmed said...

happy diwali 2016 sms

MD TAUQEER said...

navratri pictures

raybanoutlet001 said...

michael kors outlet online
nike free
nike huarache
nike air huarache
michael kors outlet
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
gucci sito ufficiale
nike air huarache
oakley sunglasses

MD TAUQEER said...

happy new year 2017
happy new year
happy new year 2017 sms
happy new year 2017 shayari
happy new year 2017 quotes
happy new year 2017 images
happy new year 2017 wishes
happy new year 2017 wallpapers
happy new year 2017 pics
happy new year 2017 cliparts
happy new year 2017 gif
happy new year 2017 poems
happy diwali
happy diwali 2016 sms
happy diwali 2016 wishes
happy diwali 2016
happy diwali 2016 quotes
happy diwali 2016 images
happy diwali 2016 messages
happy diwali 2016 greetings
happy diwali 2016 cards
ctet sept 2016 result
ctet sept 2016 answer key
ctet sept 2016 answer key
ctet sept 2016 result
latest govt jobs 2016

Tashir Akhtar said...

Cbse 10th 12th Result 2017
Epf
Online Pan Card
Pnb net banking
Sol du
Happy new year 2017
online metro card recharge






TAUQEER SHEIKH said...

lolhappy new year 2017
happy new year
happy new year 2017 sms
happy new year 2017 shayari
happy new year 2017 quotes
happy new year 2017 images
happy new year 2017 wishes
happy new year 2017 wallpapers
happy new year 2017 pics
happy new year 2017 cliparts
happy new year 2017 gif
happy new year 2017 poems
happy diwali
happy diwali 2016 sms
happy diwali 2016 wishes
happy diwali 2016
happy diwali 2016 quotes
happy diwali 2016 images
happy diwali 2016 messages
happy diwali 2016 greetings
happy diwali 2016 cards
ctet sept 2016 result
ctet sept 2016 answer key
ctet sept 2016 answer key
ctet sept 2016 result
latest govt jobs 2016
happy navratri 2016
happy navratri 2016 sms
uptet 2016 application form
uptet 2016 admit card
uptet 2016 hall ticket
uptet 2016 sample paper
uptet 2016 result
uptet 2016 counselling
uptet 2016 answer key
uptet 2016 merit list
uptet 2016 exam dates
jee main 2017 application form
jee main 2017 admit card
jee main 2017 result
jee main 2017 answer key
jee main 2017
aiims mbbs 2017
aiims mbbs 2017 application form
aiims mbbs 2017 admit card
aiims mbbs 2017 answer key
aiims mbbs 2017 result
aiims mbbs 2017 counselling
ailet 2017
ailet 2017 application form

TAUQEER SHEIKH said...

ailet 2017 admit card
ailet 2017 answer key
ailet 2017 result
ailet 2017 counselling
assam cee 2017
assam cee 2017 application form
assam cee 2017 admit card
assam cee 2017 answer key
assam cee 2017 result
assam cee 2017 counselling
bvp cet 2017
bvp cet 2017 application form
bvp cet 2017 admit card
bvp cet 2017 answer key
bvp cet 2017 result
bvp cet 2017 counselling
aipmt 2017
aipmt 2017 application form
aipmt 2017 admit card
aipmt 2017 answer key
aipmt 2017 result
aipmt 2017 counselling
aipvt 2017
aipvt 2017 application form
aipvt 2017 admit card
aipvt 2017 answer key
aipvt 2017 result
aipvt 2017 counselling
Annamalai University DDE Hall Ticket DEC 2016 Exam
Annamalai University DDE Result DEC 2016 Exam
comedk 2017
comedk 2017 application form
comedk 2017 admit card
comedk 2017 answer key
comedk 2017 result
comedk 2017 counselling
jeecup 2017
jeecup 2017 application form
jeecup 2017 admit card
jeecup 2017 answer key
jeecup 2017 result
jeecup 2017 counselling
mahatet 2017
mahatet 2017 application form
mahatet 2017 admit card
mahatet 2017 answer key
mahatet 2017 result
mahatet 2017 counselling
mpppt 2017
mpppt 2017 application form

TAUQEER SHEIKH said...

mpppt 2017 admit card
mpppt 2017 answer key
mpppt 2017 result
mpppt 2017 counselling
ipu cet 2017
ipu cet 2017 application form
ipu cet 2017 admit card
ipu cet 2017 answer key
ipu cet 2017 result
ipu cet 2017 counselling
jamia 2017
jamia 2017 application form
jamia 2017 admit card
jamia 2017 answer key
jamia 2017 result
jamia 2017 counselling
jcece 2017
jcece 2017 application form
jcece 2017 admit card
jcece 2017 answer key
jcece 2017 result
jcece 2017 counselling
kiitee 2017
kiitee 2017 application form
kiitee 2017 admit card
kiitee 2017 answer key
kiitee 2017 result
kiitee 2017 counselling
mppmt 2017
mppmt 2017 application form
mppmt 2017 admit card
mppmt 2017 answer key
mppmt 2017 result
mppmt 2017 counselling
upsee 2017
upsee 2017 application form
upsee 2017 admit card
upsee 2017 answer key
upsee 2017 result
upsee 2017 counselling
uptu odd semester date sheet 2016
uptu odd semester result 2016
uptu odd semester hall ticket 2016
ignou admit card 2016
ignou result dec 2016
ignou result
ignou admit card
ignou hall ticket
neet 2017 application form
neet 2017 admit card

TAUQEER SHEIKH said...

neet 2017 sample papers
neet 2017 result
neet 2017 answer key
neet 2017 online registration
neet 2017 exam date
neet 2017
neet
merry christmas 2016
merry christmas 2016 sms
merry christmas 2016 wishes
merry christmas 2016 wallpapers
merry christmas 2016 images
merry christmas 2016 shayari
jee advaned 2017 application form
jee advaned 2017 admit card
jee advaned 2017 sample papers
jee advaned 2017 result
jee advaned 2017 answer key
jee advaned 2017 online registration
jee advaned 2017 exam date
jee advaned 2017
jee advaned
gate 2017 application form
gate 2017 admit card
gate 2017 sample papers
gate 2017 result
gate 2017 answer key
gate 2017 online registration
gate 2017 exam date
gate 2017
gate

Tashir Akhtar said...

Bank of india
How to Activate bank of india internet baqnking online
Bank Of India Online Mobile Banking
Apply Online BOI Vehicle Loan
BAnk of India Credit Card
Apply Online jobs In Bank of India
Prdhan mantri jan Dhan Yojana Scheme
Bank of india Agri Clinic Loan
Bank Of India Education Loaqn
Bank Of India Star Smart Home Loan
Bank of india Loan Against Property

ghada sayed said...


شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بالخرج
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم
شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك

ghada sayed said...


شركة نقل عفش بابها
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بحائل
شركة نقل عفش بالظهران
شركة نقل عفش واثاث
شركة نقل عفش

ghada sayed said...


شركة المتحدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بابها
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض

ghada sayed said...


شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك