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Diary Comics #5
posted July 25, 2016

imageCreator: Dustin Harbin
Publishing Information: Self-Published, Mini-Comic, 44 pages, $5
Ordering: Available Here

Dustin Harbin's diary comics are extremely useful reads in addition to frequently entertaining ones. Because Harbin is a skilled craftsman, it's easier to see where his approach and orientation towards the material plays a factor in it succeeding or failing. In previous issues that might mean that at times he invested in a ethos of "getting the comic done" in a way that reduced people and events into plot points and narrative moments of far less interest than concurrent experience might suggest. Harbin sometimes assumed the reader cared about the project as much as he did. In most cases the readers care far more about the artistic experience they're having; my hunch is few think about the artist at all.

A ragged issue in terms of content, featuring comics now divorced from the idea of regular updates, Diary #5 is a lot rougher and in many ways a lot more fun than the previous four issues. There are two well-crafted, stop and stare moments: 1) an hourly comic bounces and rattles in a way that's consistently visually compelling, and 2) a full-on nostalgia piece called "Remembering The Pines" that manages to be funny and love in equal amounts. I also quite liked Harbin's dark cartoon in memory of the late Alvin Buenaventura, where with one phrase "that old" transforms a pretty typical nightmare presentation into an intriguing clue about the cartoonist's own nature. Although there are still some wasted moments and times where the cartoonist forces a structure onto some pretty unstructured moments that reminds me of a water wingless kid hanging onto the side of the pool, it feels like Harbin has stopped using his life to make cartoons and started making cartoons to figure out his life.