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Belly Button Comix #2
posted February 8, 2005
Fantagraphics/Oog & Blik, 2004, 32 pages, $4.95.
After the avalanche of shit that came the publishers' way upon publication of the first issue, the second Belly Button Comix shows touches of Sophie Crmb's promise. It's her American travelogue, very dense in terms of narrative, with a centerpiece a long and intermittently satisfying relationship she has with a drug-using sometimes artist while in the Bay Area.
There's not really a whole lot to say here. I feel like the package is assembled, the pieces are all here, but everything needs to be sharpened up 1000 times. The figure drawing can be really erratic, the character insights could be more exacting, the digressions into exaggeration could be more alarming. The biggest story hole is that it feels like Crumb fakes the perspective needed on the relationship, perhaps the worst choice you can make in autobiography because it puts you neither here nor there. The stories as a result have the feel of truth with none of the power or immediacy. It's really important that Crumb's character work be really insightful because she's more of an everywoman, the audience's eyes, instead of a complex and entertaining character in and of herself. More than just personality type, it's how that personality functions within the story and Crumb's choics reflect fairly basic, only occasionally lightly passionate attitudes.
Still, for the first time it look like something's here, and Crumb almost certainly has this kind of comic to herself right now.