Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phase 7 #015


By Alec Longstreth
alec-longstreth.com

I was excited to read this since I saw that Longstreth had been growing his hair crazy long in an effort to become like Alan Moore and make better comics. I mean, he’s vowed not to cut his hair until he finishes his comic Basewood. He made that promise two years ago and if he continues at the same rate it’ll be about another two until he’s finally finished. Woaaaaaaaah.
With that much commitment I was totally pumped for reading Basewood. Unfortunately I discovered that this issue of Phase 7 isn’t actually that comic at all! Drat!

Instead it’s a collection of Longstreth’s sketchbook stuff from 1995-2004. To be honest the stuff from the early books isn’t that good (and indeed Longstreth readily admits that, and of the first book, covering seven years, he only includes five pages). But as we continue through the years we can see Longstreth’s art improve, and some of the diary comics he reprints are pretty good. I liked the one about playing Frisbee in a wind storm, which featured a lot of long skinny panels, which isn’t a style you see very often.

There were also pages that reminded you of what you have to do to become good at drawing: Draw Every Day! Do it! I should do that so I can actually make my own comics, but I’m lazy! And I spend my time trying to improve my writing instead. I should really do both. These pages are pretty amusing, because they’re usually about how Longstreth didn’t actually draw anything. One of them features him about to go to bed at almost five in the morning when he realized hadn't drawn anything. Forcing yourself to draw at that point is total commitment.

The evolution of Longstreth’s art makes me curious as to how his art has continued to grow, and I do want to read his Basewood comic, but all of that is based more upon the fact that he is totally committed to getting better at doing comics (and based on the progression of the art in here he is!), instead of any of the actual comics included. The later comics, and the introduction, are all pretty good, but the art still seems to fit into the standard indie autobio style and the diary comics themselves aren’t particularly more (or less) amusing/interesting than any others that I’ve read.

If you already like Longstreth’s work then this is probably worth checking out, but if you’re new to his work I’d say find another of his comics to read. This issue does include an awesome letters page (with a letter from Jeff Smith) though; I like it when comics include those.

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