American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries

 AETD   (Top Shelf, 2004)

and James Kochalka

Its not often comics reach the size of the phone book. But, then again, its not common that an artist compiles five years of daily strips that chronicle the mundane and profane acts of his life. The title says it all, except that the toothy bunny-man represents the elfish author. Each group of four black-and-white squares is a snapshot in time. Together, they become frames of a film that depicts a man trying to figure out who he is, what hes about, and where hes going.

At a certain level, the subject of each day is nothing special: spats with pets, creative blocks, and insignificant chores. But what separates Kochalka from the rest of the schlubs out there is the fact that he puts pen to paper, and these observances become testaments to his evolving introspection and willingness to record any aspect of his personality.

Unlike other obsessive artistes, Kochalka uses his neuroses as a foil against his preternatural optimism, just as his simple brush strokes belie a nuanced perspective on the vagaries of love, career, and existence.

Oliver Chin

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520 pages; ca. 2004James KochalkaJames Kochalka

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January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2005James KochalkaJames Kochalka

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