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Krumpholz, Karl Christian – The Lighthouse in the City Volume 8


The Lighthouse in the City Volume 8

For all that I sometimes give artists grief who only put out a book every few years, it’s even trickier as a reviewer to keep up with the people who constantly produce comics. Karl was nice enough to to send along a half dozen or so books after I reviewed his fifth volume earlier this year, which then leads to the problem of what to review next. Read them all in order and talk about them? Nope, this time around I decided to review the most recent volume, with the hope of getting back to the earlier stuff at some undetermined point in the future. That never seems to work with me, but I live in hope! This collection covers October through December of 2021, and it also wraps up his second full year of daily strips. The level of detail he packs in these strips is astounding; I get that he’s able to illustrate for a living, but this is not a man who follows a simple formula for daily strips. Generally speaking, the four panels then out format is the most common for daily strips, but Karl is fine making a three or four page story out of the events of that day if that’ll make a better story. Granted, he also has a few strips that are silent sketches, but he even puts so much detail into those that I’d hardly call them an off-day. So, what’s going on in this volume? If you’re reading this in the far future you may have forgotten, but things are rough all over these days, and this volume reflects that reality. The first strips starts off with a quote from The Thin Man (the book by Dashiell Hammett) that ties into the madness of the vaccine deniers, so he’s right off to the races. There are just under 100 other strips in this book, dealing with loss (way too many of his friends passed away during this time period), hope, trying to get back to normal (i.e. being comfortable going out with friends again with not everybody wearing masks), and the introduction of a new cat in their lives, and this cat naturally ends up being the star of the show. Sure, I’m biased towards cats, but I’m also right. This feels like maybe as vague as I’ve ever been in describing a comic, but I am completely fine with that. This is a guy who’s wrapping up his second year of daily strips and frankly seems like he’s at the top of his game right now. They’re unlike most other daily strips I’ve read (the level of detail especially, but it’s also rare for a book like this to not ever feel repetitive) and I’m pretty comfortable recommending this to anybody. As to the question of which volume you should start with, that’s quite a bit tougher. Maybe pick the most eventful chunk of three months or so from your own life over 2020-2021 and see how his life was in comparison? That way if you enjoy the book you can always go back and read what came before and after it. Or just pick a number between 1 and 8 and get one at random. Give it a shot, is what I’m saying. $12

Krumpholz, Karl Christian – The Lighthouse in the City Volume 5


The Lighthouse in the City Volume 5

I’m going to get a bit nitpicky here at the start, so if you don’t want to read it, just skip ahead a few lines. Or if you don’t even want to be bothered doing that, I thoroughly enjoyed this, so take that information and go about your day. See that “Volume 5” up there? Yeah, I did that. It’s not listed on the cover, on the spine, not even on the inside with the title. But this IS the fifth volume, and since this is a collection of daily strips, that seems relevant if you were looking for the whole journey. Even worse, I don’t know if you can even get all the volumes. The first volume is listed through Birdcage Bottom Books, the fifth through Kilgore, but as for everything in the middle, a quick Google search has failed me. Maybe the thinking is that only obsessives read small press comics, so those types of folks would research before buying. It might even be correct! It just strikes me as odd, as a needless way to confuse people. See all that complaining? Didn’t mention the quality of the book even one time, did I? That’s because it’s delightful, right around the best of the daily strips I’ve seen. That’s for a simple reason: Karl doesn’t force it. This might seem basic, but some people who do daily strips seem like they’re performing at times, or pushing for something funny and/or insightful when the truth is that they don’t have much to say on that particular day. And that’s fine! Karl’s solution is given away a bit on that cover, as he has no problem silently narrating a small happening from the day, or the absolute lack of anything happening. He’s also not boxed in by the same format (generally four panels, single page with these sorts of things), as some strips are a few pages, some are a single panel, some are all over the place. Flipping through this book before I started reading it I assumed it was a regular graphic novel (this is also where the lack of numbering failed me) just from the wildly different looks of the pages. Anyway, finally, this book covers the period from January through March 2021, which is less than a year ago as I’m writing this. Some shit went down during this period, to put it mildly, but since everybody reading this went through it too, I won’t go through it again. It’s an engaging collection, with funny and sad strips (and everything in between), and it makes me want to scour the internet to find those missing volumes. Give it a shot, and yes, that’s especially for people who are sick of the daily diary strip format. This proves that it still can be done well with a little ingenuity. $12