You Don’t Get There From Here #39
The majority of this issue is basically Carrie holding her breath over a couple of serious issues in her life: the condition of her ailing father and the condition of her ailing cat. Her cat has some sort of kidney disease and Carrie has been trying all sorts of methods to get her to eat more, with varying degrees of success. As somebody with an aging cat (16!), I can relate, even if mine is more or less healthy. That doesn’t stop every little possible health scare from being a major source of panic. As for father, that’s a complicated relationship in her life, as he’s never been the best father to her, and his condition is destroying the quality of life of Carrie’s mother… but he’s still her dad, with all that comes with it. This constant worrying, the lack of free time and her own depression comes through in her strips, which are usually three panel daily stories/summaries, but in this case transform into odd flowing images and lines, punctuated with her thoughts of the day in question with very little concrete imagery to hold on to. It’s a haunting depiction of that mindset, and should be instantly familiar to anybody who’s ever had to go through waiting with a terminally ill relative. As always, this issue is worth seeking out. This one is just a bit more raw than most. $2
You Don’t Get There From Here #36
Ten years! That’s how long Carrie has been doing daily diary strips as of this comic. Which covers December of 2014 to March of 2015, so technically it’s more like 12 years that she’s been doing daily diary strips by now. Assuming that she didn’t take an extended break somewhere, as her website has images of her of the cover of #38 recently. But I think Carrie has a solid track record of doing this by now. If you have no idea what this is, shame on you a little bit, but it’s exactly what is sounds like: Carrie does mostly three panel strips detailing notable events from her day. At this point in her life she’s getting annoying hot flashes, dealing with a father with Alzheimer’s, babysitting the child of a friend (pictured on the cover, and clearly one of the great joys of Carrie’s life) and dealing with the sudden kidney problems of one of her cats. Her father seems to be what’s mostly on her mind, although her mother refuses all offers of help and Carrie isn’t dealing with it on a daily basis. Still, she has plenty of memories of her father when he was in his right mind, and they don’t seem to be all that happy, which complicates the recent illness even further. She also loves her cats dearly, and I can certainly relate to trying to research and figure out the best possible diet for a cat while also panicking about possibly making the wrong choice. It’s another solid issue from Carrie, and I’d say that 36 issues (plus however many other comics based on other subjects) makes for a pattern by now, wouldn’t you? She has a new book out with strips about various nonfiction books that she’s read that looks interesting, but you could pick just about any comic that she has available randomly and be in for a treat.
You Don’t Get There From Here #35
Hey daily diary comics artists, you think you have it rough? You think it’s tough to stick to a daily drawing schedule? Well, Carrie sprained BOTH of her wrists and still didn’t miss a day. Good luck topping that! Granted, for all I know she went back and finished the strips when she was healed, but I didn’t get that impression while reading the book. She did sometimes go more minimal with her images, but only slightly, and not missing a beat after having that happen is incredibly impressive. If you have no idea what this series is you have some serious catching up to do, as very few small press comics outside of King Cat can boast about getting up to 35 issues in a series. Basically these are diary strips about Carrie, and she’s a master of the format and could teach some young cartoonists a few things. A lot of her strips are regular three panel stories, but when she goes on vacation or has a lot to talk about she seamlessly switches over to using between a few and several pages to cover the events of that day. She even puts the date and the concept of the comic at the start of each issue (this one covers October-December of 2014), so anybody who does stumble across this will know quickly what they’re picking up. Subjects in here include spending time with her cats, babysitting the kids of her friends (I think; the danger of missing a few issues of a daily diary comic is that some of the specifics fly out of my head), taking a trip to Oaxaca (and then reading the Steve Lafler comic set in that area), and dealing with menopause (mostly the hot/cold flashes and what she calls her “menopause belly”). It’s a great comic by a great artist, and if you have any sense you’re already following her series. If not, now’s your chance to get caught up! You can buy most of her books through Spit and a Half (from John Porcellino) or she has plenty of samples up at her website.
You Don’t Get There From Here #5
First off, sorry if I screwed up the images from the last review. I simply can’t see recent images when I’m editing these pages (anybody reading this familiar enough with WordPress to help me out on that one?) so… sorry. Carrie is back to the daily diary format with this issue, three panels per day, except for a longer nostalgic piece at the end about taking trips with her family when she was younger. At the very least, this issue helped clarify for me exactly what I don’t like about his format. After reading this and most of her other books in this format (and they are dense, dense things, plan on about an hour per comic if you pick one of these little things up), I still don’t know a lot of the fundamental details of her life. Is she seeing someone, and how on earth does she pay for anything, as she doesn’t appear to have a job? You could say that these things are none of my business, and you’d probably be right, but she spills so many intimate details on such a regular basis that these feel like vital parts of her story. For example, she often talks about overwhelming feelings of loneliness, of lacking any purpose at all. Is there somebody there with her, helping her through this, other than her friends? Occasionally a female friend is mentioned, and she talks about housemates, but most of the details there are left to the imagination. Anyway, it’s another solid issue, all my complaining notwithstanding. This covers almost a three month period, from June to September of last year (2007), in which Carrie deals with cancer in her friends, injuring her foot, jury duty, depression, and the loss of her favorite trail. You’re not going to find more bang for your buck anywhere, as $2 buys you a thickly packed little mini. I do worry about her though, which is odd considering that I don’t often feel that way after reading other intimate comics, so here’s hoping she settles into some sort of happy pattern with her life, even if it ends up making her comics less interesting…
You Don’t Get There From Here #3
Huzzah, my favorite kind of diary strip: a travel diary! In this issue Carrie talks all about her trip to Rome and Venice, and she seems to take great care in showing actual buildings from the area. She does a really amazing job at conveying these places (check out the sample if you’re curious) but by the end of it I was wishing for bigger panels. Oh well, always something to complain about. This issue encompasses about a week, from packing and facing obviously angry cats (about the fact that she’s leaving, something a lot of cats seem to sense, and they can lay on the guilt) to walking around Rome to recovering from the whole thing after getting back home. She picked up a cold over there, which killed her sense of smell and taste for a few days, but she still saw plenty of sights and managed to eat many different pizzas and drink many different espressos. As is often the case with these travel diaries, I came away significantly better informed about an odd area of the world and more than a little bit jealous. If I ever get over to Rome I plan on taking this issue with me, as Carrie goes into detail about a lot of great places to eat and drink. $2
You Don’t Get There From Here #2
The good news with this issue is that, on a personal level, Carrie seems to be doing better with life, although not so much in a “and she lived happily ever after” sense, as nothing in life is that simple. She’s essentially come to terms with the fact that she does drink on occasion and that she is getting older and, with that, is picking up a few new health concerns. The bad news, at least for me, is that she seems to have settled on doing comics in a daily diary format. It’s a format I loved for a while and something that has gradually worn on me through the years. Why? Good question. Part of it is the fact that almost everybody who does these things (or practically anybody on the planet) just doesn’t have enough going on in their lives to keep these things interesting. Remember that day a few weeks ago when you didn’t do much past check your e-mail and then veg out on the couch watching TV? Well, try writing a three panel comic strip about that day. There’s also the fact that every time something gets dug into with any kind of insight, the strip is over before things really get interesting. Carrie does her best to overcome that, as her strips are remarkably wordy for such a small setting. She also manages to put detailed backgrounds in all over the place, so kudos to her for that, as a fair amount of the daily folks have a tendency to let that slide on occasion. So essentially what I’m saying is that Carrie here has managed to make the best possible comic with a format that I like less and less all the time. Chances are it’s just me, so everybody else will love it. I just liked her longer stories. Even when they were only a page long she could pack more relevant content in there than anybody else. $2
You Don’t Get There From Here Goes Goes To Oaxaca
As someone who doesn’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like, IÂ love these diary/travel comics.Â It’s a great chance to learn about odd places from people who share a lot of my sensibilities, meaning that if I ever do manage to make it out of this stupid country I’d have some solid ideas on what to do.Â In this issue Carrie visits some friends in Oaxaca, explores the city in great detail, and even runs into Peter Kuper, as he apparently lives in the area.Â Along the way Carrie samples some of the best chocolates in the world, discovers that Doritos made outside this country are significantly more edible than the stuff we have here, gets a horrible stomach flu bug, sees all kinds of local art, samples all kinds of local cuisines (although can’t bring herself to eat insects), and just generally does a thorough job of exploring the area.Â It’s impossible to review books like this and do them any justice; if you’re remotely interested in the area covered or in the artist involved you’re likely to be curious enough to check them out on your own.Â For whatever it’s worth Carrie has been a favorite of mine for years, so I’m predisposed to like her stuff.Â Still, it’s an excellent, informative issue, and it’s even light on the introspective side that seems to bug some people who hate auto-bio stuff.Â Check it out, then go visit the place and see if this was helpful.Â $2