Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"EmiTown: Volume 2" by Emi Lenox

Year of Publication:  2012
Number of Pages:   408 pages
Genre:  Autobiography, diary, comics, graphic novel

For the past couple of years Portland, Oregon resident Emi Lenox  has been chronicling her life in a daily "sketch diary".  This second volume covers 1 May 2010 to 30 April 2011, and marks a slight change from the first volume as it deals with both Emi's relationship with a new boyfriend and the loss of her job, as well as burgeoning success in her career as a comics artist (including a guest artist spot in an issue of Sweet Tooth, whose creator Jeff Lemire contributes a short comic strip as an afterword).

One of the big problems for diary comics often face is how much to share and how much should remain private.  Lenox deals with this by disguising some of the more personal episodes with fantasy strips involving tin-hat wearing soldier cats and superheroes.  These tend to be obscure but the reader can get enough of the gist of what is happening without feeling too intrusive.

This book is darker than the first book and a little more complex, as Lenox endures some pretty tough times, however there are still plenty of the incidental pleasures of life, which made the first volume such a delight and even the darker elements are shot through with a strong vein of humour.  There is a page for every day of the year, some are done like traditional comic strips, some are illustrations with notes, others are a single full page drawing.  There are also random song lyrics interspersed throughout.  Each month is prefaced by a list of the songs referenced that month.

Emi Lenox is a very talented artist and she started EmiTown initially as a private exercise in developing her art, before putting it out in the world initially as a website (http://www.emitown.com/) and reading through both published volumes you can see how she becomes more skilled and confident in both her writing and art as it progresses.  Lenox is an effortlessly likeable and engaging narrator whose cartooning is some of the most adorable around.  

You won't regret a visit to the world of Emi Lenox and EmiTown is a place you will want to visit again and again.


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