Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #311: Look Back and Laugh: Journal Comics by Liz Prince

I do like titles that end with "by {insert author};" they save me time and space on my post titles. Perhaps I should do a year where I only read books like that.

(I rely on you readers to talk me out of patently stupid ideas like that one.)

I have a feeling Liz Prince has a more interesting and full cartooning career than I've managed to keep up with: I can be obtuse like that. I have read and liked her books Tomboy and Alone Forever, but I bet there's more out there. I should probably take a look.

But right now I'm here to tell you about Look Back and Laugh, a collection of her journal comics from 2016. If I have this right, Prince started a Patreon sometime around then, and one of the rewards was a monthly printed collection of daily diary strips. (I'm not clear why she didn't just put them online daily and password-protect them for backers, but I bet the reason has something to do with the romance of 'zines.) She also seems to have at least sometimes gotten behind on "daily" comics and had to catch up by doing a week at a time, which is totally endearing and something I'd be likely to do if I was in a similar circumstance.

(Assuming a world in which I could actually draw, obviously. Which is not this world.)

Look Back collects those 366 comics, along with a new comic-strip introduction by Prince, and they're very much journal comics -- mostly done in a quiet moment at the end of the day, sometimes about one big thing that happened that day, sometimes about two or four little things that happened, and sometimes about how she can't think of anything particularly notable that happened. This was a pretty eventful year for Prince and her partner Kyle (I didn't see a last name for him in the comics; I presume Prince's audience already knows who he is): they got married, they bought a house, and they moved from outside Boston up to Portland, Maine. (Those latter two are obviously related.)

But, mostly, it's about what she did that day. That's the joy of journal comics: they're about the everyday and the mundane. Some days are sitting and drawing, some are frenzied cleaning the new house and trying to find that one random thing in a sea of packed boxes. This turned out to be a good year for Prince to start making journal comics about, but the hidden secret is that they're all good years.

Prince is working on a small canvas here, and trying to fit in enough words to explain what's going on. But even with those constraints, she has a bouncy, cartoony style and a good eye to lock in how she draws the people in her life. You may not be interested in anyone's journal comics, and that's fine -- but, if you are, Liz Prince does them really well.

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