That’s Me in the Corner Part One
What, you thought that Jep only had funny stories in him? I don’t know why you would assume that, but we’re dealing with your hypothetical illusions here, and you’re wrong, imaginary construct in my mind. This comic is made up of strips that Jep made weekly (ish) on his website. The idea was that he was going to tell the story of his introduction to religion and how he eventually fell away from it, including the event in particular that pushed him completely away from religion. But as he worked on the story things went off into different directions for him, and his memory proved to be far less certain than he originally thought. There’s a fine line in comics of relying too much on the “inside baseball” vein of comic strip. For those of you who hate all sports allegories, basically that just means that the artist is wallowing in telling stories about how hard it is to tell stories. That can sometimes cause a spiral where no stories get told, but Jep avoids that trap here and ends up making those strips essential to the story that he’s telling. For example, the event that pushes him away (spoilers here if you don’t want to know a thing about this book, which I’d recommend) is his witnessing the molestation of his friend by a priest. But it’s clear that he doesn’t remember exactly what happened, or how long it happened, or what he said to the guy to prevent himself from getting molested initially. The only way Jep could clear this up would be to contact the guy who was potentially molested, but he sees no reason to upend his life just so he (Jep) can get a little piece of mind. Even basic stuff like how many churches they visited before his mom settled on Catholicism proves unreliable, as his brother contradicts bits of his story. It’s a fascinating peek into a mind as it’s deep in the creative process, taking sometimes reluctant detours down unintended paths to tell this story. He was also nice enough to send along the second part of this story, so I get to see how it “ends” soon, as much as the story of his life can end when he’s still alive. This particular part of it, anyway, but he also mentions never being sure how far to dig in these stories. It was a damned great read, and I’m not just saying that because my own religious experience more or less mirrors his own.
The True Adventures of JepComix #5
I’m going to post the letter that came with this as a sample image because it’s perfect and more humans should see it. As for the comic itself, yeah, that was pretty great too. Stories include an overheard conversation at a beach in Cuba (always a good sign when at least one of the overheard parties is drunk), coming up with a motto for keeping your nose clean, debating whether or not “Indian summer” is an offensive term, an adorable page of the way he sees his love (or the fictional character sees his or her love), and Jesus having an honest conversation with is Dad in between stanzas of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on exactly what good it would do for him to get crucified in practical terms. The biggest story in here is about the librarian of the forest, a creature that he gets to follow him and learning things about humans, food, and what guards their food. It also has a fairly ingenious way to steal bread if you’re trying to do that while keeping your hands free, so bread thieves, take note! This is a funny and charming mix of stories, and you’d have to be a real curmudgeon to not at least get a laugh or two out of this. Check it out!
The True Adventures of Jep Comix
Huzzah for mini comics full of random stories! That may seem an odd thing to huzzah about, but I am easily overjoyed. Apparently the name of the author is also Jep, or maybe jep, or maybe JEP, or maybe Mister Jep. Initials? Secret code? His website doesn’t clarify it, but it’s also not like it’s a big deal. Anyway, there are a wide range of stories in this one, and I’ll save the best one for last. Runners-up in this unofficial contest of “best story in comic” deal with the simple joys of playing Altered Beast with a friend at a Dairy Queen (and recalling a question about religion in class that I’ve still never heard a good answer to), being paranoid while walking in a park, filling your basement up with water for better baths (and the humorlessness of Catholics), drawing an odd line at sharing a glass with your significant other, a stranger in a bathroom going by sound to tell you that you have a fake bladder, and learning guitar. And finally, there’s Roger. The story, and also the person, I guess. Jep had a gay couple living next door to him, and he knew them both casually. By “knew” I mean “knew their first names and said hello to on the street.” As far as he was concerned, that was more or less the end of it. Then Jep got married (to his girlfriend) and ran into Roger in a grocery store. Everyone else had been congratulating Jep once he shared the news, but the reaction from Roger was odd. He confessed to having a crush on Jep and asked Jep what he (Roger) was supposed to do now. The two pages that show the thought processes that went through Jep’s head here are priceless, and I’ll say no more about the story so you can discover it all for yourself. I will only add that sometimes there are no good answers, and guilt doesn’t help anybody. Anyway, check it out for yourself, you’ll love it. No idea on the price, as he doesn’t have one listed on the comic or his website (where you can find all kinds of stories for free), but I’ll guess $4.