Digital strips

By JOE BERNARDI  |  July 10, 2007

Cat and Girl, too, has been collected into print. Cat and Girl (The Book), described by Gambrell as “204 pages of words where there ought to be pictures and pictures where there ought to be words,” can be purchased from her website or (gasp) in real life from the Harvard Bookstore. Fresh from a recent cross-country move from Brooklyn to Tucson, Gambrell appears to be prepared to continue researching references for us to research well into the foreseeable future.

A SOFTER WORLD

070622_softerworld

“Newspapers are competing with the internet now. They can't afford to sell just comfort. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I guess kids hate comfort.” So quips Joey Comeau, writer of A Softer World and, increasingly, writer-at-large in general. ASW is what’s known as a “photo comic,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a comic with photographs in lieu of drawings. The comic is a collaborative process between Joey, 26, and longtime friend Emily Horne, who takes the photographs and lays the comic out. In spite of the fact that the pair often finds themselves hundreds of miles from one another, the collaboration has continued unabated for over four years. 

ASW is in turn absurd, profound, hilarious, and sad. “Work is a vampire that sucks me dry/which is a metaphor/but still the reason I stuck a chair leg through my manager,” reads one of the comics. “The ice caps melted, but we were prepared/with our waterproof valentines/with our scuba gear for kittens,” reads another. In spite of Comeau’s extremely evocative writing, though, the comic remains one that is best experienced in toto. While the photos are sometimes unrelated to the text, the pairing of the two always creates a neat synergy that presumably owes to Horne and Comeau’s years of friendship as much as it does their admirable skills with their individual media. Regarding the frequent elegance of ASW’s relationship between word and images, Comeau notes, “there are some where the pictures and the words work together really well, I think. Those are our best, because they feel like more than just the sum of their parts!”

Comeau actually goes so far as to list this comic as his favorite ASW strip of all time. “It snuck up on me as a joke,” he says, “a stupid idea, and I never meant to actually use it as a comic. Hardly anyone seems to like it, and I don't care.”  Aside from being something of an in-joke (the baby pictured in the comic is Horne, a fact Comeau finds endearing), the comic toes the line between romance and apocalyptic non sequitor that seems to be a large part of Comeau’s voice.

Like many of its peers, ASW has enjoyed a bit of success in print, but Comeau, especially, has seen his writing career blossom. 2005 saw the publication of Lockpick Pornography, his first novel, and It’s Too Late To Say I’m Sorry, a book of collected short stories, will be released sometime in June. The first edition of Lockpick Pornography sold out within months.

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