Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thirty Days of CCS #24: April Malig

Malig hasn’t done much in the way of comics in recent years, but her collage/photography zines that she Risographs are beautiful and funny. There’s a sense in which these zines are acts of will against depression and entropy. For example, Yuri!!! On Ice Is The Only Thing Keeping My Sanity Together!!! ends with an apology that this was not a fan zine, but rather that in a time when things were and are awful in any number of ways, this anime proved to be “a talisman for tender things” like “stronger friendships, a sense of community” and “a break from the real world”. While not a fan of that show myself, I’ve been witness to the sheer joy and happiness I’ve seen from people who are into it. And that sense of finding a community, of making a connection, are absolutely crucial to one’s mental health, something that’s reinforced again and again in Malig’s work.

That theme is reflected slightly differently in TBH, I’d Rather Live In A Sailormoon Background, as the desire for escape is so great that she imagines literally pushing into a drawing or cartoon and living there for a little while. New Mexico 2016 Zine is about using paper to record beautiful, strange events and times that now seem far away. It’s a way of keeping them alive and real in a way that’s difficult to do with just memory or even a simple photograph; the act of making is a kind of jump-start for reliving those experiences. Again, the candy-colored shades and backgrounds and the simple and sometimes blurred images evince feelings more than specific ideas. Collage Zine 2017 is even more abstract and basic than these other minis in terms of concept but far more complex in terms of the colors, drawing and even hand-constructed nature of the thing. It begins with the text “Like, whatever, fuck it…Do what you want” and goes further down into that paradoxical hole of accepting meaninglessness and fighting it through creating things.

South Korea Scrapbook 2008-2011 is a fantastic mix of confessional autobio, comics, Lonely Planet reviews, photos, and drawings centering around Malig’s experiences moving to South Korea (from California) for three years and how it shaped her. It started as kind of a whim centered around a boy she had just met and turned into a slowly life-affirming experience where she had friends and connections all across town. She had places she knew and loved, food she sought out and enjoyed, and a life lived intentionally. That seemed to be the key to her experience, as the isolation in a foreign country can be so extreme that one is forced to find connections, communities and meaning on an everyday basis. Malig’s sense of humor and the multimedia lens with which she views the world convey this feeling to the reader in a warm, self-deprecatory but ultimately sincere fashion.

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