Wednesday, September 29, 2010

American Elf - Celebrating The Little Moments in Life

I love American Elf. Today's strip is just a simple, childlike moment: standing inside an oil rainbow circle and feeling happy.

I don't read many diary strips. It's a big challenge to draw something about yourself every day, even if you never run out of material. Such strips may or may not be relatable to the reader. I'm not sure if I could pull it off; there are so many things to life that you can write about, but there's also a huge temptation to do "these are the things I did today and, in fact, nothing much happened, sorry it's so boring". James Kochalka is doing something very right, but what is it? Could it be that he only picks small moments of wonder/joy/love (or anger/sadness/regret), moments that are relatable? In other words, he doesn't feel responsible for giving us his schedule and every aspect of his life. Less is usually more in comics.

Or maybe it's his likeable personality, the childlikeness and joy of small things. He's honest to who he is, and he has a signature style. The strip is friendly, it doesn't mock people he finds annoying, or attempt to be faux-witty when he doesn't feel like it.

Sometimes I don't appreciate his honesty so much. Like when he makes a strip about how his crap looked in the toilet bowl, or how he has a pimple in his scrotum. Some stuff you don't want to know. But maybe this is part of his integrity. The gross stuff is his to share; maybe a part of his childlikeness.

A couple of moments that touched me lately:

Pizza rocket! I love basically everything around children in the strip, because Kochalka lets the children speak.

I've been following Oliver since Amy was pregnant, and it feels bittersweet to see him grow and speak and all that.

He still has a very endearing baby view on things though.

And I love when Kochalka just gets silly and plays with the kids. He looks like the funnest Dad ever.

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