Monday, November 28, 2022

Two from Keiler Roberts: The Joy of Quitting and Creepy

Keiler Roberts just had a couple of new books published, but in a sense, neither of them has any new writing from her. Having moved from the now-defunct Koyama Press to Drawn And Quarterly with her typically excellent My Begging Chart, she's just released two books with her new publisher. Sort of.

Creepy was co-written with her brother, Lee Sensenbrenner, and it feels less like a book than a long, brother-sister in-joke. It's a lecture about staring at phones and digital devices disguised as a sort of parable that works because of Roberts' deadpan style of art backing up the ridiculous premise. It follows a creepy lady who only eats the ears of children, and it turns out the best way to get them is to sneak up on them while they're staring at phones or tablets or TV. The whole thing is just...odd, especially as a release from D&Q. It feels like it should be a cheaply-produced minicomic. It's a lighthearted goof of a comic. 

The Joy Of Quitting is not a new comic; instead, it's a greatest-hits collection from all of Roberts' self-published and Koyama-published books. Cramming the sensibilities of five different books into a 260-page book means that a lot of the relaxed pacing of her previous books is lost. While it does retain much of her best material, the book suffers from the more relaxed, quotidian quality of the original books. Luckily, Roberts' material tends to be gag-oriented and doesn't rely on long narrative through-lines. Some of the strips about having MS are pushed a bit more front-and-center than in the original books, where those stories were surrounded by more trivial strips that added a tonal context to her other work. While this is a solid introduction to Roberts' work, readers are better off simply finding copies of her other comics. 

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