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John Porcellino

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Page 45 Review by Stephen and Mark

The most adroitly distilled evocation of those years when you've become old enough to think but too young to know what to do with those thoughts. In some ways this was the first of the new generation of autobiographical material encompassing Jeffrey Brown, James Kochalka etc. after the sexually obsessed Joe Matt, Chester Brown and Julie Doucet, or the cranky old-guard of Harvey Pekar et al. or even the celebration of life that was and remains Eddie Campbell's speciality (please see his ALEC OMNIBUS).

Originally published over two decades ago, it brought with it more contemporary enthusiasms like skateboarding and an instinct for how to convey matters of the heart and mind when you do not have the answers. This is almost certainly why it has picked up such a large and broad readership aged 16 years upwards who've found it so easy to relate to and/or remember. Here's Mark, from December 2000:

Only managed to see a few issues of Porcellino's long running KING CAT mini and I was bowled over by his simple naive line-drawings and the gentle, floating-down-river way of telling stories from his past.

It's the summer before college and John is experiencing some growth pains. Among skating with his friends and heading off for punk gigs around the state, he still has doubts about his ability and willingness to be happy. David Lasky called it "sweet without being glib or sugary".

There's a purity to the uncluttered line that perfectly expresses both joy and doubt. A portrayal of teenage alienation that avoids sensationalism and irony.

Can I just say how long I've been waiting for this book? It's a little late and, as I said, I've enjoyed the KING CAT' stuff soooo much. He rarely uses any solid black and the minimalist style just breathes with so much space, graced with an almost Japanese design. Auto-biocomics can be a little self-indulgent but this tale of dealing with depression works beautifully. A feature in the Observer this week focussed on self-loathing, depression and happiness.

Perfect timing, perfect example.

[Editor's note I: Mark died in 2005, and was buried with a single issue of KING CAT, a title he tirelessly championed since the day he first discovered John Porcellino. Our recommendations don't come more fervent, personal and sincere than this. We even have John's little badges.]

[Editor's note II: I wrote Editor's I back in 2010 just before we launched the Page 45's website. We no longer have John's little badges.]

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