I'm sitting in the airport in Austin, trying to ignore the gnawing sensation that I've made many terrible mistakes, a sensation that has come about because I decided to spend the 4AM hour reading this long article about Michel Haneke's earlier films. Austin is a fun town, although there is a certain point where you get tired of seeing all the drawings of guitars on everything. I don't want to take a dump in a guitar, thank you! You can put my water in a cup!
Thankfully, the site can continue apace regardless of me and my feelings. Starting off, we've got an interview with Kelsey Wroten, thanks to our old pal Annie Mok. It's a good one, and I share Kelsey's desire for more speed-based acclaim for cartooning types. Has anyone topped Kyle Baker's Dick Tracy pace while maintaining legibility?
As far as other thematic inspiration goes, I was exploring the notoriety aspect of creative work. If a person is an athlete it is easy to understand why one is greater at any one thing. If a person is the fastest there's nothing to debate. Creative work is somehow devoid of those external markers. It's experiential. It's like instead of being the fastest, a work is on the racetrack of trying to make someone feel something, whatever that comes to mean. The work that does that best is given a prize. This all seems well and good, but it also plays into other factors, like market saliency, accessibility, audience, and zeitgeist to name a few, all having nothing to do with the content of the work at all. Caroline is a 4 on the Enneagram test. She needs external validation for her internal life, which is setting herself up to fail from the start.
Today's review is from Leonard Pierce. Leonard didn't ask to be the Monday critic anymore than Hillary asked to be the Friday closer, but it certainly has been nice having that system in place. Leonard's looking at Luke Healy's new book with Nobrow, Americana, about his experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My sister hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago, and the main thing I remember was when she had to stop and go to an emergency room in the middle because she got this psychotic spider bite and walked around with what looked like a tennis ball of infected flesh stuck to her body. Around the same time her husband woke up with spiders inside his ears! Leonard doesn't focus on those kind of gross-out elements of Luke's book in his review, which is why Leonard is a pro.
Artistically, Americana is a quite lovely book; though Healy is not a traditional illustrator of nature, his skill in conveying both the glory and the tawdriness of wild places is effective and compelling. There are long passages of text, a device that I normally don’t care for and which I find disrupts the flow of comics as a visual medium, but Healy loads in a lot of background that would make the story unwieldy if it were drawn. I can’t say I’m happy about it, but to leave this important material out entirely would be a huge loss, so I’m more kindly disposed towards it than I ordinarily might be. One of the charms of the book is how it draws you in to the argot of the trail and the distinct characters of those who follow it, and Healy’s medium-shot caricatures of oddly nicknamed fellow travelers (Spreadsheet, Craftsman, Secret Squirrel, Centerfold) gives you a real sense of their personalities as the drop in and out of his long quest along the trails. It’s an absolute fish-hook of a read, burying itself in you right away; Healy meets with constant travails and setbacks and always presses on, and I found myself pushing forward with him on every page. Putting the book down seemed like a surrender.
Time to go home! By way of Detroit?