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posted May 5, 2011
Self-Published, mini-comics, 16 pages, $2, 2011
$3 for this issue or the next one to PO Box 40701, Portland, OR 97240
Something that never occurred to me when reading Jesse Reklaw's recent run of dream comics is how effective his style could be employed on behalf of the essay. Reklaw's comics are handsome, there's a great deal of clarity from panel to panel, and he's managed to find a way to make comics with a lot of text that doesn't feel overpowering. Those skill are all put to good use in the first issue of what I guess is a multiple-issue consideration of the joys and horrors of self-publishing: N.Y.D.I.
. That stands for "No, You Do It" and exists as a clever response to the "D.I.Y."/"Do It Yourself" ethos that is seemingly at the heart of everyone that puts comics page to photocopier glass. Reklaw's a veteran of that field, and was even doing 'zines and comics as a student: he has 23 years of experience on which to reflect.
Reklaw's focus isn't so much his own publishing history but using elements of same to pick at underlying assumptions that slip into place when one wants to make art on one's own. That simple act seems to have enough of an effect it might make the reader wonder how much of a group effort is being put into remaining as ignorant as possible about certain elements of the publishing business surrounding certain kinds of art. Reklaw digs into the economics of both self-publishing and low-level (four-figure) standard publishing book deals with a great deal of can-you-believe-this humor, and may be even funnier when he challenges his own abilities when it comes to wearing a lot of hats as effectively, or with the same desire, as he hopes to make art. It's dry humor, told with an admirably straight face as much as possible. It helps to have settled into his largely self-deprecating and amiable tone for a few pages, but when you do the piece moves right along.
I think as an essay, this first issue rattles a bit in the second half -- it's hard to know where he's going and if all the issues brought up really have a point. I felt like there was maybe one chart too many. Surprisingly, at the end Reklaw seems to double-down on the work itself, almost playing against what the captions are tell him and us. I can't believe there are a lot of artists out there that wouldn't benefit from just seeing someone like Reklaw confront the realities of what making art means when the making art part becomes an achievable thing, only at significant and sometimes unconsidered cost. I look forward to a second issue.