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The Living Cain
posted July 27, 2010

imageCreator: Lydia Conklin
Publishing Information: Killing The Buddha, mini-comic sized, 56 pages, 2010, $6.00
Ordering Numbers: 9780979985362 (ISBN13)

This is spiritual magazine Killing The Buddha's first foray into comics production. I love the format, and I'm enamored of the idea of spiritually-themed comics. I wish The Living Cain were a stronger effort. New York-based cartoonist and writer Lydia Conklin tells the apparently autobiographical story of how she used to wish for a perfect dog and companion that she knew would be named Cain, and then how through serial disappointment and final attitude adjustment she stopped making that wish. It's told in a rough and intermittently charming visual style and a voice that the publisher describes in relation to bedtime stories but to me felt more like someone telling a story in a public setting when they hadn't practiced saying that narrative out loud. I thought the book dragged a bit, and went on for far too long with little in the way of corresponding reward. It felt like it needed editing. Given the cliched conclusion (which actually involves the phrase "letting go") the execution needed to be ruthlessly precise, to develop a compensating, aesthetic power. I think Conklin is able to make good comics, I just don't think she made one here. I can imagine this story at best finding an audience of folks who have had similar experiences, of which there are like more than a few.