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The Accidental Salad
posted July 22, 2013
Blank Slate, softcover/ignatz (roughly), 40 pages, 2011, $8
This is a very handsomely collected bunch of autobiographical shorts from the cartoonist Joe Decie, done in a gray wash style and arranged in a variety of ways on the page. Decie has a wife and a young child; his humor flits back and forth from a variety of different areas, with a strong strain of noting the distance between his own behavior and that expected of an adult. Tonally, the work falls somewhere between similar comics by Eddie Campbell and Karl Stevens, which isn't a bad neighborhood to visit.
One strength here is pacing: The Accidental Salad
bounces along quite ethusiastically -- the variation in layout helps keep the eye interested, although Decie's visuals are strong enough that's not ever really an issue. Like a lot of work similar to the comics in this book, I tend to wish for sharper, more idiosyncratic observations: I think authors working in this area sometimes underestimate the accessibility that comes with the form and format and sometimes favor broad rather than universal moments. The visuals are a real strength here, though. In one installment called "Love" Decie drives the entire joke via format: pairing one continuous background with a panel that breaks from same in an effective downward motion. There's a lot more here than immediately communicates, and the entire work can be read more than once -- a rarer achievement in autobio than one might guess.