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posted October 6, 2010
Sparkplug, comic book, 40 pages, 2010, $9
Ordering Numbers: as featured on-line
David King is the source of most of a very special recurring nightmare I have that in this strange period between the fall of the alt-comic and the rise of its digital replacement that we're losing track of too many good cartoonists. His 2010 collection Lemon Styles
is another trip into King's special part of the comics map: the sublimely-drawn, lousy-circumstance, good time. His characters look like members of an adult cocktail party scene in a 1950s Dennis The Menace
knock-off. I can't tell with 100 percent certainty if they're a repertory company or a recurring cast, but they're well suited as vehicles for King's sense of humor, which when it makes me laugh the hardest seems to be playing off the disconnect between the ambition of emotionally connecting with someone and the reality that in almost every way and in every instance fails the passion and enthusiasm we bring to finding that connection. In these and earlier cartoons of their kind, King has come as close as anyone to attempting chords constructed from the notes that Charles Schulz put on the page. That isn't to compare the two talents or their achievements -- that wouldn't be fair to King -- as much as it is an attempt to acknowledge a shared emotional landscape, an attention to regret and failure and the possibility for an endless supply of the same. Even the strips that leave me cold make me appreciate the surrounding area into which they've tried to settle. I hope David King gets to make as many comics as possible.