28 October, 2008

My Thoughts on 10 Years of American Elf

I've been a fan (and I hardly ever use that word) of James Kochalka's comics for most of the past decade, discovering him sometime in either 1999 or early 2000 (I think this review from the summer of 2000 may have been the first time I wrote about Kochalka's work). I could not possibly have guessed how important his comics would become to me, or how many times his work would lift my spirits, or how his comics and music would even influence every member of my family. He hugged every one of us, me, my wife, my son, and my daughter, along with maybe 100 other people, after his concert and booksigning at Crow Books in August of 2004. It was an electric moment none of us will ever forget, and a kind of reflection on the way he has affected the lives of everyone who has been reached by his work. For me, it came just a couple of days after I was both betrayed by one of my closest friends and summarily dismissed from a job I loved, and that night provided me with a lot of hope I otherwise would not have had in the months that followed.

The ten years of daily diary strips represent an amazing achievement, especially in artcomix, where consistency and deadlines are both frequently victims of passion, distraction, or base economics. No one else has done this, and I don't believe anyone else really could. I'm thrilled for James to have reached this landmark, but more thrilled for comics, which needs more creators with his level of engagement and commitment.

I had proposed a mammoth 10th anniversary interview to James, and he accepted, but somehow it never came to be. But I've interviewed him plenty over the past decade, and there are links to all those conversations in the sidebar, so, wander at will and see what you find.

Congratulations, James, on reinventing yourself over the ten years so far of your daily diary strips. In your own way, you've reinvented everything, like you said you would, and even the most skeptical of observers by now has to admit that you're a creative force to be reckoned with, and one of the greats in the artform of comics.

Spurgeon on Ten Years of American Elf

Here's comics blogger Tom Spurgeon on this past Sunday's tenth anniversary of the beginning of James Kochalka's daily diary comic strips:
This is an astonishing achievement in a lot of ways, and I hope everyone appreciates it for what it is. Ten years is the length (before option) of a standard daily newspaper comic strip. You can stockpile work when you're working on that kind of endeavor in a way you can't working on a daily diary comic, and people are still driven stark raving mad by the daily deadline pressure.
More at The Comics Reporter.

27 October, 2008

James Kochalka on American Elf's 10th Anniversary

James Kochalka yesterday observed the tenth anniversary of his daily diary comic strips. You can read his comments on his blog, and see a nifty Magic Boy drawing by Maakies creator Tony Millionaire as well. Congratulations, James! I'm looking forward to the next decade of American Elf.