Monday, December 11, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #11: Daryl Seitchik

Anyone who's followed my reviews over the years will know that Daryl Seitchik instantly became one of my favorite cartoonists from the very beginning of her career. Her storytelling sensibilities, her fragile line, her deadpan sense of humor, and her interest in mysticism and aesthetic wonder are all very much my sort of thing in a way few cartoonists are. (Side note: I feel so strongly about this that Daryl was one of the first artists I approached when Fieldmouse Press started soliciting books for publication, and her NOW AND OTHER DREAMS remains a proud achievement as a publisher.) 

Seitchik works in a number of different styles. Her Missy comics may be my favorite, as they are thinly-veiled memoir from the point of view of a child and later a teen. Seitchik has a deep understanding of that voice, and that's carried over to some of her more recent projects. She's taken her experience as an after-school teacher for kids and spun that into some interesting comics. 

Class From Hell describes a hilariously bad day. Teaching in Vermont means that kids often get their socks wet and are bundled up to go outside. The art here is scribbly, as Seitchik was clearly trying to dash these down as quickly as possible, and the immediacy of the line contributes to its frazzled energy. Seitchik's deadpan sense of humor is also on display, as they're barraged by questions. When asked when class is over, they reply, "in 25 years" with the biggest look of resignation ever on their face. Later, total chaos reigns at snack time as the kids (including one too young to be there) put their pretzels in water, yell loudly, play with Pokemon cards out of turn, refuse to draw, and start throwing tennis balls. That concludes with Seitchik having to yell at them, taking the very last of her reserves, reducing her on the page to a puddle with hair. Seitchik took a series of anecdotes and constructed several narratives around them and threw in references to her own mental health and a potential desire to have children. 

Interview With A Unicorn Expert was done in Seitchik's usual style, and it also picks up a thread from teaching. This time around, she notices the ubiquity of unicorn imagery. T-shirts, hoodies, horns, you name it. Seitchik decides they want in on this secret society, and so they interview what appears to be a leading expert. The result is a series of questions with funny answers that are taken with grave seriousness. This includes Seitchik interrogating them on how they survived the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, and the girl spins a yarn about a cave the unicorns hid out in. Once again, it's Seitchik's deadpan sense of humor and total willingness to go along with the story that makes it work. Seitchik's skill as someone who is always observing and listening is at the heart of their work as a cartoonist. 

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