Tuesday, June 17, 2008

High on a Hill: a collection of comics by Sarah Oleksyk

From behind her table at MoCCA, Sarah Oleksyk said to me the magic words in my guise as an interested browser, “these are the last two in existence.” After reading HOAH, I am super, super pissed that I didn’t pick up her new work Ivy. Luckily she has a story in Nerd Burglar, this year’s Free Comic Book Day book from Tugboat Press, Teenage Dinosaur and Sparkplug Comic Books. It is called “Fifteen Variations on ‘The First Day We Met’” and it is not only beautiful but the best comic in the collection.

So, HOAH is a self-published collection of minicomics, some from over 10 years ago. They are stories of traveling and bad roommates, love, hate, art and music. One of my favorite stories is “The Epic Saga of The Clum,” a piece about a mysterious bad smell in a shitty apartment in Providence, RI. Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine figure heavily into the stories (Oleksyk was born in Maine)-- two places my friends are fleeing to this summer. Sometimes the stories fall a little flat or the art doesn't do its job, but seeing an artist's development is part of what's fun about collection like this. The selection from 2002’s Creatures series show a detailed, eerie side of her work and really left me wanting to see more.

My favorite part of HOAH is that it really illustrates what was so awesome about discovering an autobio minicomic by someone around your age that was doing what you wanted to do and succeeding (even if in their actual life, they were scared or doing it for the wrong reasons). It was always as if the person jumped off the page and into your life to become an inspiring, if distant, friend. Why didn’t I find Roadside when I was 19? A cross-country move would have been a good idea around then…

HOAH is a great introduction to Oleksyk’s work. If you do manage to find one pick it up!

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