2020 In 12 Pages : November Garcia’s “(Even) More Diary Comics From A Relative Nobody” #2

When the fist page of your new mini pretty much sums up everything that everybody who’s been making so-called “quarantine comics” over the past year has been trying to say, then I’m going to credit you with doing two things remarkably well : cutting to the chase, and clearing the decks to facilitate moving on to something (please, God, anything!) else. Not that the pandemic doesn’t hang over the rest of November Garcia’s latest Birdcage Bottom-published ‘zine, (Even) More Diary Comics From A Relative Nobody #2, as surely as it hangs, Sword of Damocles-style, over all of our lives, but let’s not forget — there’s other shit going on, too. And some of that shit is even important.

Admittedly, as the title of this review gives away plainly, this is is a short little comic (it was created as a Kickstarter premium for the latest — and final — issue of Garcia’s Malarkey series), but it does manage to encapsulate the general flavor and character of one person’s life over a consequential 12-month span, and by getting the obvious out of the way early on, with a strip that pretty much runs the entire “pandemic emotional gamut” in the space of six panels, we’re free to forge ahead into more personally significant territory, and that’s what sets this authentic, energetic collection apart from the others of its ilk out there.

What’s been going on that’s so “personally significant” in Garcia’s life, then? How about deaths in her family, medication adjustments, therapy, addiction and recovery (or steps in that direction, at any rate) — and, just to lighten the mood, some fun times sharing music and laughs with her dad. All of it matters, in degrees large and small, all of it draws a full picture of a life, and all of it’s relayed in Garcia’s by-now-trademark clean, populist style. Her comics aren’t fussy, nor are they especially flashy — they’re just plain effective, and likely to be as well-received by readers who are new to the medium as they are by crusty cartoon vets like yours truly. She might consider herself a “relative nobody,” but don’t be fooled by false modesty — at this stage of the game, Garcia is an absolute pro.

Still, I fully well realize that professionalism is a two-edged sword in the eyes of many a reader of this blog, and not without reason : folks worry that “polished” is polite-speak for “soulless,” that immediacy and vitality are somehow necessary sacrifices at the altar of cartooning prowess. Oftentimes I’ll be the first to admit this is true, but it’s never been a concern as far as Garcia’s career trajectory goes. Quite the reverse, in fact — the more developed her craft has become, the more she’s honed her approach to creation around the strengths of her own unique skill set, and as a result, her strips really do just keep on getting better and better.

All of which means that this particular ‘zine punches well above its weight class. By all rights it should be nothing more than a disposable little freebie, but instead it’s a damn impressive representative sample of a cartoonist at the top of her game. It’s serves perfectly well as a complementary piece to the latest Malarkey (pictured below), but it stand on its own two feet with nary a wobble in sight, as well. In fact, if this were someone’s first exposure to Garcia’s comics, I think the most immediate reaction would be — “this is great, where can I get more?”

And that, right there, is literally the only problem I have with this slim volume — I wish it were a little longer. But if I didn’t wan t it be, then hell — that would be much worse, would it not? Diary comics don’t come any more perfect than this, though, so I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. More would be nice, absolutely, but I’m damn grateful for the dozen that we get here.

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(Even) More Diary Comics From A Relative Nobody #2 is available for $5.00 from the Birdcage Bottom Books website at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/collections/comic-books/products/even-more-diary-comics-from-a-relative-nobody-2

Review wrist check – Longines “Legend Diver” riding a Crown & Buckle adjustable Chevron strap in a color scheme they call “royale and harvest,” but I just call royal blue and tan. Or khaki. Or something. But not “harvest,” no way.