AMERICAN ELF, BOOK TWO
By James Kochalka
Published by Top Shelf Productions, $19.95
I had a friend over the other day and she was looking through my stacks and shelves of graphic novels, looking for something to read. She picked up AMERICAN ELF BOOK TWO, a collection of James Kochalka’s diary comics from 2004 to 2005, and she flipped through a few pages, made a funny face, and said, “Are these supposed to be funny?”
And I said, “Well … they’re about real-life, so sometimes that’s funny.”
She kind of scrunched up her face and flipped through a few more pages, and then picked up a copy of STRANGERS IN PARADISE to read instead.
I love James Kochalka, and I love American Elf -- as a character, a book, a website, a philosophy. I read them everyday on AmericanElf.com, but it’s a different experience to read them in a book. I look at the dates and think about where I was on Novemer 29th, 2004, and where I’ve been since then. I watch the daily snapshots in the life of this other artist, and the lives of his family, as they gather momentum day by day. I can see them from a different perspective and take in years in a life in just a few hours. It’s truly a whole that’s more than its pieces.
It’s a little strange to think that this is probably his life’s work -- that James Kochalka’s life has come to be about chronicling his life -- but it’s such purely enjoyable work that I can find no flaw in it. That’s not to say it’s flawless -- simply that its flaws are part of its beauty, just like every day of life itself.
Tell me more: American Elf, Top Shelf Productions.