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As Of This Time, It Remains Unwatched

So I’m picking up comics yesterday, getting ready to enjoy the hell out of Box Brown‘s Love Is A Peculiar Type Of Thing when I notice it on the wall behind the registers: the DVD of Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Yes! Having seen Joss Whedon as the special musical guest at the recent This American Life movie theater event, I couldn’t wait to hear Commentary! The Musical. Okay, change of plans — read LIAPTOT on the train home (a trifle rushed, but one must), and then the DVD goes in.

Except Erika Moen ruined it.

Waiting for me at home was a copy of her new book: DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary Volume One. I had resigned myself to not getting a copy until SPX, when I could look Moen in the eye, thank her for her awesome work, and maybe get a sketch. And she went and made all that unnecessary with her very kind gift, complete with a sketch that’s beyond awesome in its moustachery. I’m still gonna get a copy from her at SPX, because I know this is a book that, when lent to others, comes back late and in significantly more worn condition. The next copy will be the loaner, this one is mine and you can’t have it.

But now — no Dr Horrible for me. Sad face lasted about twelve seconds until I realized this meant that I now had two diary-style collections in front of me, and the opportunity to look at them both at my leisure was overwhelming.

Both LIAPTOT and D:ASGTSCDV1 tell the stories of their creators, but they come at those stories from different perspectives. Box Brown’s work is filtered through the perspective of Ben, who isn’t Box, but isn’t quite not-Box; there’s a nice one-pager in the book (from which the cover image is taken) that talks about how the fictional character Ben had things more together than the real Box — in love, sober, happier.

And it talks about how Box is becoming Ben. The character that started as not quite so much a stand-in for the creator and more of a metaphor is possibly the real-er of the two, or at least of the unseen Box Brown that speaks with a disembodied voice throughout the book. By the end of the book (and its slow, fits-and-starts progress towards the realization that all of us are just making life up as we go along), it’s tough for me to decide whether Box or Ben is the metaphor.

At times, the journey is melancholy, at times it’s guarded, at times it’s revealing or hopeful, and it gets a zillion bonus points for appropriating a Frank Zappa lyric for a comic title. It’s a masterful piece of introverted storytelling, and if more people (not just comics creators) were able to look at themselves and tell these kinds of stories, we’d probably have fewer therapists and social workers.

In contrast, D:ASGTSCDV1 works from a fundamentally an extroverted point of view; while Erika Moen does talk a great deal about what makes her tick, I think it’s fair to say that hers is a story of living in your skin rather than in your mind. Her comics celebrate experiences, whether they’re happy or sad, miserable or joyous, simple or complicated, and (recurringly) sensual in every meaning of the word.

Moen wants you to know how much she’s attracted to women and (confusingly at first) one guy. She wants you to know that she burps, farts, bleeds, and poops. She has sex, she has compulsions, and strippers dig her. Above all, she has a life that is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and always met head-on in a full-bore attack that says Show me what you’ve got, and I’ll show you mine.

In lesser hands, it would be too revealing, too narcissistic, too much like watching unavoidble “reality stars” go on and on about themselves. From Moen, it feels like you’re sitting next to your most energetic friend, the whirlwind that doesn’t sit still before she starts in on the caffeine, and she wants to tell you about her day and hear about yours and don’t leave out the good stuff.

Reading D:ASGTSCDV1 is likely to leave you slightly out of breath, like you’ve been on a really good roller coaster called The Erikanator, and as luck would have it, there’s no line so you can go ride again. Oh, and Erika? Damn right, twinsies! Rest of you, don’t worry about it — she knows what I’m talking about.

MoCCA Updates!
Press access has come through, so in addition to everything mentioned previously this week, I’ll be able to see:

Finally, there was one other item in my mailbox yesterday — a notice that the post office needs my signature so that I may claim THIS.

Notice in my mailbox that a parcel is awaiting my signature at the post office … a parcel from Ryan North, containing the only thing better than a grappling hook. Hell, yes.

I thought I was totally safe in the assumption that no one would recognize a Frank Zappa lyric.

:D :D :D

Oh man, thank you for such a lovely review! I’m hella blushing :)

great reviews Gary! Also, starting to really look forward to SPX this year.

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