March 29, 2010

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Conversation #2

Written by James Kochalka and Jeffrey Brown
Illustrated by James Kochalka and Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf

Kochalka teams up with Jeffrey Brown, who also writes personal comics, though in a very different way, to talk about the idea of being an artist.

If you know anything about these two, you can tell they have different outlooks, and their give and take, shown with fanciful pictures that see both of them gain powers (and even turn Brown into a huge giant), is an extremely compelling read.

While Brown (at the time they wrote this) still clung to his full time job, Kochalka says that he must be doing artistry full time to really live and that everyone must love their job. Brown counters with the fact that some jobs just aren't glamorous, but still must be done. It's a point that Kochalka really can't answer. (But hey, neither can I.)

Brown careful reserve and exactness contrast with Kochalka's desire to throw ideas against the wall and see if they stick. He worries less about an audience than Brown, and their musings on what and why they publish are a great inside look into their ideas.

I love how Brown uses some Marvel comic book logic to express his points and even teases himself about his problems in relationships. Similarly, Kochalka's almost overwhelming optimism we've seen in his other projects shines through here.

By the end, they don't so much agree as seem to understand why each acts in the way that they do and produces comics in the manner that they do. It's like reading two people who have expressed their philosophies, with neither asking the reading to side with them. And unlike seeing this at a university, we end up with silly pictures to illustrate their points.

I really enjoyed both Conversations books, and anyone who likes Kochalka or Brown definitely needs to grab a copy from Top Shelf. This may be a zine-sized work, but it has a lot in its small pages. Fans of both artists should enjoy getting to be a part of the conversation.