Today is a tribute of sorts to one of my favorite creator of comics, James Kochalka.  I first came across his work in the form of the highly entertaining Monkey vs. Robot.  From there I was hooked.  It’s very simple.  Large brush strokes, bold thick lines, not a lot of detail, very simplified.  I loved it.  I would delight when I found any new Kochalka work, be it a stand alone book or unexpectedly in the back of some Marvel comic where he has drawn the Hulk screaming at a flower.  Then I found something he did called The Sketchbook Diaries, later collected in larger volumes and published as American Elf.  The whole concept was that James would make himself do a small square, usually broken into 1-4 panels, per day.  Reading these often quirky, random, funny and cute, but occasionally heartbreaking comic strips you get to feel like you really know James, his lady, their cat, and eventually their son.  The collections convinced me that what Kochalka was doing was even greater than just the sum of its parts.
I had the first few volumes (big, thick books with about 3 years worth of strips in each) and took them with me when I first moved to Japan.  I valued them so much, that when a friend got arrested for trying to mail herself some marijuana from the states (take note, kids — Japan does not place nice with drugs, especially not weed.) I brought them and gave them to her (Surprised?  Sexist. ) to help pass the time for the three months they kept her in jail before she was deported back to America.  From there I understand they stayed at the jail, and I like to think that they are still there in Asahikawa, Japan, being flipped through by guards or other prisoners, delighting in James’ silly expressions and the perfect way that he draws his cat.
During my time in Japan, I eventually became unable to keep up with him through the books, and he started publishing his comics online daily at AmericanElf.com, and kept it up.  James just ended his run of daily diary comics yesterday, December 31, 2012 after 14 years.  I applaud him for what is an amazing achievement and thank him for providing his audience with yet another wonderful example of what comics can be, and how amazingly they can be done.
By the way, I also love Franklin Booth. I picked him because I could think of no better example of using as many lines as humanly possible to contrast Kochalka’s sparsely lined style.  If you aren’t familiar with the art of Franklin Booth, you can check out the amazing images that come just from doing a google image search on him…
5” x 8” -Pen and Ink, Watercolor, in my small Moleskine.
You can look James Kochalka up here:
http://americanelf.com/
http://kochalka.tumblr.com/
http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/james-kochalka
http://www.amazon.com/James-Kochalka/e/B001JRWDAI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Today is a tribute of sorts to one of my favorite creator of comics, James Kochalka.  I first came across his work in the form of the highly entertaining Monkey vs. Robot.  From there I was hooked.  It’s very simple.  Large brush strokes, bold thick lines, not a lot of detail, very simplified.  I loved it.  I would delight when I found any new Kochalka work, be it a stand alone book or unexpectedly in the back of some Marvel comic where he has drawn the Hulk screaming at a flower.  Then I found something he did called The Sketchbook Diaries, later collected in larger volumes and published as American Elf.  The whole concept was that James would make himself do a small square, usually broken into 1-4 panels, per day.  Reading these often quirky, random, funny and cute, but occasionally heartbreaking comic strips you get to feel like you really know James, his lady, their cat, and eventually their son.  The collections convinced me that what Kochalka was doing was even greater than just the sum of its parts.

I had the first few volumes (big, thick books with about 3 years worth of strips in each) and took them with me when I first moved to Japan.  I valued them so much, that when a friend got arrested for trying to mail herself some marijuana from the states (take note, kids — Japan does not place nice with drugs, especially not weed.) I brought them and gave them to her (Surprised?  Sexist. ) to help pass the time for the three months they kept her in jail before she was deported back to America.  From there I understand they stayed at the jail, and I like to think that they are still there in Asahikawa, Japan, being flipped through by guards or other prisoners, delighting in James’ silly expressions and the perfect way that he draws his cat.

During my time in Japan, I eventually became unable to keep up with him through the books, and he started publishing his comics online daily at AmericanElf.com, and kept it up.  James just ended his run of daily diary comics yesterday, December 31, 2012 after 14 years.  I applaud him for what is an amazing achievement and thank him for providing his audience with yet another wonderful example of what comics can be, and how amazingly they can be done.

By the way, I also love Franklin Booth. I picked him because I could think of no better example of using as many lines as humanly possible to contrast Kochalka’s sparsely lined style.  If you aren’t familiar with the art of Franklin Booth, you can check out the amazing images that come just from doing a google image search on him…

5” x 8” -Pen and Ink, Watercolor, in my small Moleskine.

You can look James Kochalka up here:

http://americanelf.com/

http://kochalka.tumblr.com/

http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/james-kochalka

http://www.amazon.com/James-Kochalka/e/B001JRWDAI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

  1. nadiva12 reblogged this from smaupin
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  5. modhero reblogged this from kochalka and added:
    Thank you James Kochalka, for many years of meditative, silly, sweet, and highly personal comics. #spandyforever
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