I scanned a bunch of drawings out of John Porcellino’s memoir of his teenage years, Perfect Example, to share with you…and then I realized that if I put all the drawings in a certain order, they told a little story:
I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about Porcellino and King-Cat on this blog. He’s definitely one of my favorite cartoonists. It’s amazing to read the King-Cat collection King-Cat Classix and watch his drawings evolve from punk-zine scribbles to zen-like elegant lines. At their best, his comics are pure poetry — nothing extraneous, perfect and simple. Looking forward to his adaptation of Thoreau’s Walden.
The comic strip is the definition of quotidian: it comes out everyday, you read it on the toilet, it just weaves itself into your everyday life. It’s about little details. It’s not about grand sweeping dramas. Graphic stories are able to show incidental life without having to describe it.”
— Alison Bechdel on the everyday in comics
I’m passionate. I’m disciplined. I play a lot…[When I sit down in front of a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen,] I do a mark on the page, whether it’s virtual or actual paper. Once there is a mark, there’s no fear of not drawing something. It’s a funny thing, but it works every single time…
The way I work nowadays usually is…I don’t really draw a lot….I’ll go months without drawing, but I do keep a notebook…and write down dreams or ideas I have for stories. I just kind of keep filling in those pages and six months or eight months or twelve will go by and I’ll start to panic and I’ll say, ‘I’m never going to do another King-Cat,’ and then at some point…all this work that didn’t really make a lot of sense the day previously, it all just kind of comes together and I’ll think, ‘Ah, this is what the next issue’s going to be,’ and I’ll sit down and I’ll write the stories. I’m a person who allows myself some leeway. If a mistake happens in a comic or I sit down and draw and it takes me off on some tangent I didn’t anticipate, I’m open to following that wherever it may go. But I do usually have it pretty well thought out. But at this point I just see the comics in my head before I ever draw them. So when I have that thing kind of put together, I’ll draw intensely for a period of a couple weeks or a month or so. My comics are so simple, it’s a lot of work that goes into them before the drawing point, but when I actually sit down and draw them it actually goes pretty quickly. And then I’ll put it together, sit down with the pages, edit things and try to make an issue kind of cohesive. Nowadays, it’s still a kind of random thing for me, but I do try to kind of have the issue be a cohesive thing, like an album where these are independent songs but if you take them as a whole they’re a unified expression.
— John Porcellino
I am more greatly moved by people who struggle to express themselves….I prefer the abstract concept of incoherence in the face of great feeling to beautiful, full sentences that convey little emotion.”
— Daniel Day-Lewis
We’ll have to wait a little while until Drawn and Quarterly publishes the five-volume set of the complete run of Lynda Barry’s Ernie Pook’s Comeek, but in the meantime, there are a bunch of out-of-print collections out there…if you can find them. I’d like to start the week off by showing off a couple scans from two, GIRLS AND BOYS (1981), and EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD (1986).
* * *
BOYS + GIRLS was Lynda’s first book. Most of it is drawn in a scrawled, punky pen style — a crazy contrast to the fluid brushwork of something like ONE! HUNDRED! DEMONS! The strip was reformatted into a horizontal format, something that Chris Oliveros has emphasized will NOT be the case in the D + Q reissues.
Here I’ve restored her strip, “How To Draw Cartoons,” to its original square format:
EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD is a little more refined — it was Lynda’s fourth collection, and the drawings get better and better, but the content is still nutty and hilarious. The gems from this book are these little maps that serve as chapter dividers:
Here’s the strip “What Turns Men On”:
And the strip “How to Catch a Man”:
I found this King-Cat strip from John Porcellino to be a great match for them:
Like John P’s KING-CAT CLASSIX collection, I can only think that the five-volume Ernie Pook collection is gonna be nothing short of fantastic.