diary comics Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Robot 6 Q&A | James Kochalka on the end of American Elf

After 14 years, and more than 3,500 cartoons, James Kochalka is bringing his diary comic American Elf to an end. Since October 1998, Kochalka has been chronicling small slices of his daily life in short comics, seldom longer than four panels, and if you read the comic, you already know he has mixed feelings about ending it.

Of course, Kochalka has plenty still going on, including the animated version of his comic SuperF*ckers, plus teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies, playing rock music and being the Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. He’s going to keep the American Elf site live, and of course, you can get the collected editions from Top Shelf (and digitally via comiXology).

Keeping a diary comic for 14 years is a singular achievement, so we asked Kochalka to talk a bit about the experience of creating — and living — American Elf.

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Koyama Press to publish Dustin Harbin’s Diary Comics 4

Dustin Harbin has been publishing his Diary Comics online on a more or less daily basis for some time, and Koyama Press has published the first three volumes, so this should come as no surprise: The publisher will release the fourth volume this fall. Here’s the note that Ed Kanerva sent with the announcement:

Dustin Harbin’s DIARY COMICS may have begun as a sketchbook exercise, and first seen print as a quotidian daily journal, but over their lifespan they’ve morphed into something more meaningful. They’ve become an exploration, not only of a person’s life, but of their own changing perception of that life. While the comics are no longer a daily-style journal, they still meander through whatever is on Harbin’s mind, warts and all, using the everyday events of his life to comment on the world and what it all might mean to one dumb cartoonist.

Of course you can read it all on Harbin’s website, but there’s a lot to be said for a nice collected edition in print.

Jennifer Hayden makes everyday life interesting in Rushes

One of the high points of MoCCA, at least for me, was getting acquainted with Jennifer Hayden, the author of Underwire. I love Hayden’s casual style and her good-humored approach to the large and small stumbling blocks of life, and it was a treat to finally meet her in person. She is currently working on an ambitious graphic novel about her experiences with breast cancer, and I was disappointed to hear that she will be working on it for a while yet, but then she turned me on to her diary comic, Rushes.

Diary comics are fascinating because they are glimpse into the minutiae of someone else’s life. Hayden’s comic has a certain amount of continuity to it—the family adopts a problem dog—but outside that story arc it is filled with the things we do every day: Getting together with friends, running errands, school projects, and at the moment, a home renovation project that is sure to provide some chuckles. Hayden’s life isn’t that different from mine, but somehow it’s more entertaining to read about these things than actually do them—especially when they are presented with wit and good humor. In other words, I’d rather read about Hayden going to the hardware store than go to the hardware store myself; some experiences are better when they are vicarious.

Gabrielle Bell and the incredible disappearing award-nominated webcomic

Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell spent the entire month of July posting one diary comic per day on her blog. They were very good. People, including us, got excited about them. They were even nominated for the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Webcomic.

And then they were gone.

Some time after the 31st and final strip was posted, Bell removed all but that last comic. It was a move she’d promised to make from the beginning, but it still came as a surprise given all the attention and acclaim paid to the project. Why’d did the Lucky and Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories author send those 30 strips down the memory hole? In an interview with Bell at CBR, Alex Dueben asked her:

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Check out Sarah McIntyre’s China travel diary

Sarah McIntyre is one of a group of talented British comics artists who created work for the short-lived children’s comic The DFC; McIntyre is the creator of Vern and Lettuce, a whimsical story about a sheep and a rabbit. That book has not yet been published in the U.S., but happily, the web is everywhere, so anyone can enjoy McIntyre’s travel diary of her recent trip to China. McIntyre is blessed with an effortless style, a sharp eye for detail, and a willingness to go out and actually talk to people, so her diary is a delight to read. She drew all the characters as animals—it’s faster, she says—but it also gives the comic a whimsical air, and she includes photos of people and places as well. It’s the next best thing to being there!

SDCC ’11 | Brian Ralph’s San Diego Comic-Con diary

I’ll admit it, it’s a bit of a shock to see a Brian Ralph comic that isn’t about some deceptively adorable character adventuring their way through an impeccably rendered rubble-strewn environment. Then again, is surviving the San Diego Comic-Con really all that different? The Daybreak cartoonist and alumnus of the influential Fort Thunder collective is chronicling his experience at Comic-Con International 2011 in diary comics form for The Comics Journal all week long. Day one’s a doozy, a journey from misery to triumph and back to misery in the space of a few panels. Look out for the cameo appearance from Drawn and Quarterly’s staff supercouple Peggy Burns and Tom Devlin, who emerge as a sort of obscenity-spewing Statler & Waldorf.

Spend the month with Gabrielle Bell

Well, make that “Gabrielle Bell’s diary.” Actually, make it “Gabrielle Bell’s diary comics.” The Lucky cartoonist has taken on the challenge of posting a diary comic every day for the month of July — and not just a loosely-sketched strip three or four panels, mind you, but a full-fledged page drawn in her customary splotch-driven style. It’s actually a big month for Bell: Besides the diary project, she has an art show with cartoonist Lizz Hickey opening up at Brooklyn’s Desert Island comic shop on July 14, and a collection of her acclaimed San Diego Diary strips bowing next week from Uncivilized Books. Which events, I’m sure, will provide further fuel for the diary project. Down the recursive rabbit hole we go!

Pascal Girard draws MoCCA

One of the regular features of the new Comics Journal website is a diary comic by a different creator each week. They started off with Brandon Graham, and as this week’s diarist, Pascal Girard, notes, that’s a tough act to follow. Girard is off to a strong start though; his first comic chronicles the doings of Night Animals creator Brecht Evens, who is already becoming a bit of a MoCCA legend (see Peggy Burns’ epic MoCCA post at the Drawn and Quarterly blog for more). Stay tuned!

Ben Hatke talks comics, does backflips

Zita the Spacegirl creator Ben Hatke is apparently pretty new to the publicity machine, as he actually was excited to do an author appearance in a bookstore—and he chronicles his adventures in this absolutely adorable comic strip at the website of First Second, his publisher. It’s a nice look at the experience through the eyes of the main attraction—and even better, one who is not jaded yet. Plus it shows off Hatke’s loose, fluid style, which gets tightened up a bit in his published work.

Here’s a preview of Zita the Spacegirl, which is kid-friendly but fun for adult readers as well.

Kate Beaton’s New York Diary

from "New York Sketches" by Kate Beaton

The Big Apple giveth, the Big Apple taketh away: After losing what would have been her latest Hark, a Vagrant! comic strip somewhere on the streets of SoHo, cartoonist Kate Beaton made lemonade out of lemons by instead posting “New York Sketches” — a sizeable selection of diary-comic strips about her life and times in New York City. From attending the New York Comic Con (see above) to dealing with drunk and disorderly fellow New Yorkers to assuaging the fears of her mom back in Nova Scotia, it’s a fun little portrait of the artist as she navigates the concrete jungle where dreams are made of [sic].

Talking Comics with Tim | Dustin Harbin

Diary Comics 1

Diary Comics 1

Dustin Harbin is a cartoonist who considers his craft and the comics industry from a pragmatic vantage point. I say pragmatic, because, to be perfectly honest, the first few questions I fired at Harbin were skewed a tad negative, completely on my end. I think it’s to his credit that rather than going the easy, negative or defensive routes, he offered nuanced, yet candid responses to my questions. We dispensed with those questions fairly quickly and from there got into the meat of why I wanted to talk to him: his ongoing work as letterer of the relaunched Matt Fraction/Gabriel Ba & company’s Casanova (Icon/Issue 4 set to come out on October 13) as well as his own Diary Comics #1 (Koyama Press) [48 pgs | b&w w/ color covers, endpapers {$6 ($10 w/sketch)}], which premiered at SPX. Harbin describes Diary Comics 1 as “this–THIS!–is your opportunity to splash on in to six months of one dull dude’s life, as originally seen in the daily DHARBIN! diary comic. Covering topics including girls, dharbins, other girls, more dharbins, depressions, some conventions, more depressions, tons more dharbins, AND MUCH MORE!!” On the con front, Harbin will be at APE this month (October 16-17), then BCGF in Brooklyn in December. My thanks to Harbin for indulging my questions.

Tim O’Shea: Is it me, or judging by recent tweets, are you pulling the kid gloves off in terms of your opinions since you are no longer a HeroesCon official?

Dustin Harbin: Haha, well while not being part of the public face of something besides myself DOES free me a little bit opinion-wise, I think I’ve always been fairly vocal about my disgust with some of the crappier blog sites out there. Not working for HeroesCon just means that I don’t have to worry about it reflecting on Shelton Drum. That dude is super-friendly, he would never publicly run something down, he’s too classy, unlike me.

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Everyone’s a Critic: A roundup of comic book reviews and thinkpieces

Hiroyuki Takei's Butsu Zone

Hiroyuki Takei's Butsu Zone

Manga: It’s a Jason Thompson hat trick: The prolific editor and writer, and the author of Manga: The Complete Guide, has three recently published articles, and all are worth a look: At comiXology he sings the praises of Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei; at Anime News Network, he writes about the classic manga The Rose of Versailles, which tells the story of Marie Antoinette and her cross-dressing bodyguard; and at io9, he looks at five sexually twisted manga.

Roundtable: The Savage Critics get together to discuss Dan Clowes’s Wilson, and how much they resemble (or don’t resemble) the title character.

Art comix: Paul Gravett talks to John Broadley about his hand-crafted graphic mini-comics woven around bits and pieces that he finds at his day job at a clipping service.

Advice: Lauren Davis looks at a couple of diary comics and notes the importance of having some sort of overarching theme.

Criticism: Kate Dacey, chronicles the seven deadly scenes of reviewing—and admits she has committed a few herself.

Timing: David Welsh discusses the sometimes unexpected pacing in One Piece, noting that lead character Luffy achieves one milestone on the way to becoming King of the Pirates in just a chapter, rather than a volume.

Snark: Chris Eckert retells Identity Crisis from the culprit’s point of view. Warning: Spoiler!

Conversation: Translator Jocelyn Allen, blogger Deb Aoki, retailer Christopher Butcher, and editors Erik Ko, Dan Nadel, and Ryan Sands got together at TCAF for a panel on indie manga, and Deb has the transcript for your reading pleasure.


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