Wednesday, July 18, 2007

American Elf (Book Two)

James Kochalka

Collecting James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries from 2004 - 2005 is the second volume of American Elf, where Kochalka has drawn a slice of life for every day, sometimes as a single panel illustration, sometimes as a strip. This volume is substantially smaller than the previous volume, which collected nearly five and a half years worth of moments from Kochalka's life, which is fine with me because I absolutely loved the first book and wouldn't have wanted to wait half a decade before a new one was released. Recording small moments and huge alike, Kochalka has shared his life with readers, in all of its painful and beautiful moments, through characters he's illustrated in the forms of elves, animals and various creatures (with the exception of his child, who remains a human in the strip), for an array of experiences that anyone can identify with. I've heard that some people haven't liked Kochalka's later strips because they're a little too "cutesy" since he's had a baby boy, but I really think that anything Kochalka does is great here. And babies do cute things, and I want to see them since they're important to the creator whose diary we are reading.

Like with the first book, there are some bad strips, but that kind of adds to the overall charm, I think. If he's struggling with something to write about, it's kind of interesting to see that included in the strips since the strip itself is an important aspect of his life. Anyways, if you're still not convinced, feel free to check out Kochalka's American Elf site, where he posts a strip each day. It will give you a taste of what's in store should you buy this book. A-

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