Saturday, December 3, 2022

31 Days Of CCS #3: Daryl Seitchik

I've been writing about Daryl Seitchik's comics since the dawn of her career, and I've long thought her to be one of the best young cartoonists of her generation. (So much so, that I co-published a collection of her dream and surreal comics called Now And Other Dreams.) One thing she hasn't done much of is straight-up memoir and diary comics. Her mini Miss Dawool is a focused diary comic on her experience as an after-school teacher with young kids. In the introduction, she notes that she took a notebook to work every day, just so she could record the funny things they said and did. The comics themselves are straight-to-ink, and that improvisational technique keeps the spirit of the anecdotes themselves. 

Some of them are charming, like when the kids really buy into her suggestions. For example, when she pretends to be Baba Yaga and tells kids to bring her red leaves, and she grants them magic powers. On other days, the kids would rather do anything than have her draw comics with them. She gets funny answers when she asks them the secret of life, then gets an uncomfortable question about whether or not you have to have a baby if you get pregnant--from a boy!

Seitchik's line is usually playful, even if the tone of her comics usually has a flattened affect. Her stand-ins rarely show a great deal of expressive emotion, even (and especially) when the world around them is chaotic. In this comic, however, Seitchik wears her heart on her sleeve a bit more, like when a kid proudly shows her that she can tie her shoes--Seitchik is so proud that she's in tears. Then she recoils when the kid shows her a tooth that's about to fall out. There's a visceral immediacy and warmth in that comic that expresses the joy felt by Daryl and the demented glee felt by the girl who knows she's grossing Daryl out. Seitchik's surreal, fabulist leanings are still at play in how she literalizes another teacher saying the kids had turned into bunnies again--and so they do. The last panel, where a bunny-kid is dressed in a coat, mittens, and boots is hilariously cute. Like in all of Seitchik's comics, even something that's based on improvisational cartooning is still well-considered, finely tuned, and smartly constructed. The final gag, where a couple of kids get the giggles regarding a painting's chaotic energy, is completed when Seitchik devotes the final two pages of the zine to featuring it. 

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