Archive | October, 2012


19 Oct

The Infinite Wait and other stories
By Julia Wertz
Koyama Press, 2012

Julia Wertz keeps it moving in her stories. While the stories in this volume tend to involve Wertz laying in bed sick as much as going around to jobs, events etc, Wertz is very good about moving quickly through periods of time which in reality represented days or weeks of relative inaction. She manipulates time in the simplest way that cartoons can, which is by compressing like moments into single mentions. The result is less a shared subjective experience which most cartoonists strive for, and more an distanced, matter-of-fact telling by a speaker who has lived the experience, is over it, but is telling the experience to a friend. Thus, there is a tone of casual, conversational familiarity to Wertz’ stories. Similar to a new acquaintance giving you “the long version” at a casual party.

The three stories in this book all overlap concrete events in Wertz’ life but approach these facts from different angles. “Industry” focuses on every job that Wertz has ever held but the reference to one of those jobs in “The Infinite Wait” serves as kind of a callback. You have had coffee with this person on three separate occasions. She has spoken at greater length about that detail earlier and its mention ties her stories closer to a reality that you can imagine.

In this way, Wertz’ narrative tics and storytelling phrasing becomes familiar to you. As a storyteller Wertz reflexively uses asides to clarify details or to mock things retroactively. She also frequently puts literal-yet-subjective descriptions of what people once said into their dialogue rather than attempting to reconstruct the dialogue naturalistically. This is another sort of an aside. In some ways it feels to me more hers than the traditional comic strip caption-with-arrow-pointing-at-things style of aside. I enjoy both techniques as Wertz employs them. Her stories are absorbing enough to me on their own but these snide jibes and jabs at past-people further humanize Wertz as a narrator and storyteller: long memory and enduring grudges, I think.


The stories are funny but I’m not sure that “funny” is the primary tone that they convey. Wertz’ stories remind me of a friend who is laying bare a life’s worth of stories but surprisingly little baggage. There is no plea for pity or cry for sympathy in these pages. Yet, one wouldn’t call Wertz’ writing dispassionate or even quite matter-of-fact. Honesty without the usual emotional trade off of ear-bending and wrist-twisting.

Ironically, this makes me place even greater trust in Wertz as a narrator and storyteller. Anyway, there’s a really great, show-stopping joke in the middle of the story “Industry” that is almost an unfair gag in that the setup is that there was no setup, bam, surprise, that’s how you tell a joke.


Fred Sanford

9 Oct

As I was reading through Jog’s weekly column for The Comics Journal, I basically gave up on the idea of buying comic books. People my age consume comic books with a hunger like we’ll never see them again. We learned that from when good comics were very difficult to come by. Now $500 worth of good comics are released per week, and my owned books take up so much floorspace that I hopscotch through my one-room hovel, I think it is time to stop buying and start leaning more heavily on our libraries.

Last night my friend’s dog jumped and hopped and leapt for joy when the friend got home. The dog is a rescue dog, literally starving to death when the shelter found her. A year later the dog is a healthy weight but still reacts to being fed like it might never happen again.

For many years, the comic book economy has practically been driven on guilt. When a comic gets cancelled, there’s a mournful shrug and “I guess people don’t like good comics.” A deep well of regret for not saving everybody. It gets worse if one is a cartoonist oneself. Come out and support the team! We’d support you! And the same twenty dollar bill circulates around a convention hall for a weekend, returning to its original owner. I doubt that I’ll ever overcome the sense of guilt that I feel when I pass on a friend’s book or choose to read it from the library. But that is how it’s got to be. Fuck comics.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


Let’s celebrate African stories but only if those Africans conform to our specific checklist of requirements.

1 Oct


A review of a review.

This is Ayo talking about Aya. I know it’s confusing.

Caitlin Hu wrote a review of the first Aya graphic novel:
(avoid the comments as there are major spoilers for the Aya extended series)

This is a pretty terrible way to read books. Aya’s author, Marguerite Abouet wrote this series of books based on her life and observations in Ivory Coast. Caitlin Hu diminishes Abouet’s story by referring to it as “heterosex” and “problematic” with only a vague sense of justification based on a notion that Aya isn’t Hu’s ideal of a central character and that Aya’s friends are okay but tragically heterosexual. The passive-aggressive manner in which Hu attacks “Aya,” by lightly complimenting elements of the book and then taking those compliments back seem to underline the reviewer’s discomfort with stories which aren’t directly about the Caitlin Hu Experience. Hu is condescending and imperialist. She reviews Aya as though she were a better authority on how three girls lives in Ivory Coast ought to be written than the woman who lived that life.

What part of the game is that?