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Douglas Vs. Write About Comics All Day Day 2009, Pt. 3 of it’s looking like 3

Brian Hibbs

Under the cut: “Ten Thousand Things to Do” and this year’s issue of “Love and Rockets.”

TEN THOUSAND THINGS TO DO #5: This is Jesse Reklaw‘s enormously charming diary comic–he’s apparently just finished the sixth and final issue, but this was the latest one that was at SPX. I suspect I’ll be pulling it out decades from now to show people what bohemian life was like in the Portland of the late ’00s. Reklaw’s got a pretty interesting day-to-day existence, as bohemia goes, and he cherrypicks it for the funny/interesting-to-draw bits:

That lower-right-hand image, incidentally, appears with variations on every page: a diagram that indicates Reklaw’s mood, energy level, pain levels (head, shoulder and lower back), and how many caffeine and alcohol drinks he consumed that day. He pretty much sticks to the format, although there are a few guest strips–his life drawn by other people!–and a couple of sidebar “diaries” of his cats. This is the sort of diary that’s about discovering patterns in the diarist’s life, not isolating individual moments to aestheticize them (like, say, James Kochalka’s or Lewis Trondheim’s), but it’s been a consistent pleasure all year; it’s VERY GOOD, and I’ll miss it when it’s over.

LOVE & ROCKETS: NEW STORIES NO. 2: Man, I’ve been grappling with this one since I picked it up at Comic-Con back in July, and I still don’t entirely have a handle on my reaction to it. Both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are permanently on my must-read-everything-they-do list; they both still draw like the hand of God; they’re both wandering away from the kinds of work I treasure most by them, but I admire the fact that they’re not just playing the greatest hits over and over. The two-part superhero story Jaime’s done last issue and this issue ultimately falls into the same category for me as his wrestling stories–I enjoy watching his characters talk to one another more than I enjoy seeing them throwing each other across the room, and I kept wishing I could find out what’s going on with Hopey and Ray and so on instead of tracking the convolutions of the goofy sci-fi scenario here. (Also, it took me until halfway through this issue to realize that “Ti-Girls” was supposed to rhyme with “hi, girls” and suggest “tigers” rather than, er, “T-girls.”)

Gilbert’s two stories aren’t what I was expecting him to do at this point (although, again, I’m kind of glad that they’re not), aside from prominently featuring women with enormous racks. The brief, super-condensed “Sad Girl” is effectively a continuation of the post-Palomar stories he was drawing in the L&R vol. 2 era: the Kid Stuff Kids are all grown up now (“Killer” is Guadalupe’s daughter), and the story even ends with a little heart, like most of the stories collected in Luba. “Hypnotwist” is the centerpiece of this issue, a 42-page silent story that’s much more in the vein of Gilbert’s New Love/Fear of Comics stuff–a grotesque dream-logic narrative that strings together a bunch of unbelievably creepy images, most of which appear in several permutations, then ends. (The dialogue in “Sad Girl” suggests that “Hypnotwist” is adapted from a movie in whose remake Killer appeared, in the same way that “Chance in Hell” is adapted from one of Fritz’s movies.) Both pieces have the visual crackle and sparkle that appears in Gilbert’s work when he’s pushing himself into uncomfortable territory, but–again, I find myself wishing for the depth of character writing that he did so well in Luba and the first volume of L&R. At the same time, I don’t think he could have made the leap from “Poison River” to Luba without the stretching phase of Fear of Comics, and maybe the same sort of process is happening here. This issue seems like a document of a transitional period for both brothers; I’ll call it VERY GOOD, but I think I’m much more interested in what comes next than I am in these stories themselves.


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