November 16, 2008

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Cute Manifesto

Written by James Kochalka
Illustrated by James Kochalka
Alternative Comics

This is a series of philosophical essays by Kochalka, who I know from his sketchbook diaries series. In this set of random wanders inside his mind, Kochalka sets out to tell us about his thoughts on life with words and pictures. It's a nice way to do it--philosophical essays tend to be boring--and the illustrations are typical Kochalka creations. While a pure philosophy major might scoff at the idea of illustrating a world view, some pictures would definitely improve on, say, David Hume's dense mental meanderings.

While I love getting inside Kochalka's mind--since, thanks to the diaries, I'm already getting insid his life--I find his general outlook a little too bright (finding beauty in the heart of tragedy is not really my strong point).

He also seems to think comics are to understand the unknown when I feel strongly that any form of communication to others does just the opposite. For me, we communite what we do know to others who do not know and are using comics (or books, or lectures, of what have you) to understand. It makes little sense to me for an author to use his medium to explore that which he cannot know. By drawing (or writing or speaking) they are showing that they do know. It's possible that they may not get the full concept at the time, but it's simply impossible to create that which you cannot understand. Otherwise, I'd blog on nuclear physics!

Kochalka's defense of "bad drawing" strikes me as being too close to home for him to be neutral but I've never minded bad art if there is good writing surrounding it. An artist's perspective on this, however, is quite interesting. I wonder what a "good" artist would think if asked the same questions.

All in all, an interesting read though probably not for anyone who's a cynic. The story of their having a child is probably the highlight of this one, as is it more narrative and fits better with his other work I've read. If you are a fan of Kochalka, I'd put this on your reading list, but if you only like him casually, it's not required material for the Elf test. Of course, there isn't an Elf test, but you get the idea.