Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rina's New Book

The twenty or so people still checking on this near-defunct blog may remember in 2013 my book Ticket Stub was published by Rina Ayuyang’s Yam Books.
Hopefully everyone will already be aware if they weren’t before she is also a great cartoonist. Her new book Blame This on the Boogie has just been published by Drawn and Quarterly.

What the book is about is kind of her whole life story filtered through her enthusiasm for dance as portrayed in classic film and contemporary television. There is an amusing obsession with the program Dancing with the Stars. I will likely never watch Dancing with the Stars, but it doesn’t matter; her exhaustive disquisition on it is often laugh out loud funny.

If I had to compare Rina to another cartoonist, I would say she sometimes reminds me a little of Lat. 


A lot of her subject matter is family life, and it is usually brimming with affectionate antagonistic banter.
Her comics have an improvisational quality, where the layout is fluid and feels composed in the moment page by page.
She uses colored pencils to complete her drawings, an unusual choice that makes me think of a child's coloring book she has devised for herself.

I think of a lot of autobiographical cartoonists as portraying in their work a self-reflexive neurosis around the identity of being a cartoonist. Many do this brilliantly. With Rina though, she puts you into moments of her life and removes most of the evidence of the time spent cartooning them. Her work is usually not about being a cartoonist. And the warm feeling for the people portrayed in her work shines through, something of an anomaly for my generation of comic makers.

I should also mention that anybody who reads indicias might notice we both thank each other in our books, which makes me think of the old feature in Spy magazine, “Logrolling in Our Time.” 

This is because after Ticket Stub, Rina and I remained in occasional contact through emails over the years commiserating about the difficulties of drawing comics. 
I might email and say comics are a lonely business, and she might reply something humorous like, “I need to remember again how lonely comic-ing is since I haven't done it in a while.” Or I might say something like, “I've been kind of burnt out on comics, but Corey Feldman's dancing on the Today show got me back into it a little,” which I like to imagine she was a little horrified by.

Congratulations, Rina!