Days: Selected Diary Strips (Sept – Nov 2008)
by Simon M
Days is a collection of selected diary strips from Simon M (author of Smoo), started in Autumn 2008 and finished a few months later. In typically self depreciating terms Simon M decribes it thus:
“In the autumn of 2008, I started to keep a daily diary in comic form. Inspired by James Kochalka’s “American Elf”, I was hoping to document the subtleties of everyday life and to look out for the little patterns that I could trace across my days. I only lasted a few months…”
So it’s a failed experiment in terms of keping it going for any length of time, but within the pages that were completed there’s much of the introspective, lighthearted, everyday micro insights that were there in Smoo.
These diary entries are full page things as Simon M really doesn’t do panel borders (nor, I learn inside, does he do feet all that much – but he’s working on it). So each page is one single image, of one day, sometimes a moment, sometimes a summary of the whole day, one image, multiple connected images, every page is different:
And it’s that variety of page layout, the pleasure of his line and the sheer voyeuristic interest that well done slice of life tales like this generate that impresses here.
Here in Days there’s all of the great line, albeit somewhat sketchier than in Smoo (these are daily comics afterall) and much more of the inventive layouts. Granted only about half of them really work and there are pages where it’s a struggle to follow the idea around the page, but it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment – this is, after all, an experimental thing, and the fun of it and the pages that do work more than make up for those that don’t.
And in the end I just plain like the tone of Simon M’s work; the nice turns of phrase, the simple things he chooses to illustrate every day, even the self-referential idea of the trouble he has finding things to draw each day. It is however the sort of thing that I know can really infuriate some readers, and accusations of navel-gazing can always be levelled at works this personal and small scale. If that’s you, don’t bother.
The rest of you will hopefully give this one a try, if Simon M can get his work rate up (I hear that there’s some insignificant PhD to get out the way first) and get some more comics out I think we’ll be hearing much more of him.