Review: I Saw You… edited by Julia Wertz
I Saw You…: Comics Inspired by Real-Life Missed Connections
Edited by Julia Wertz
Random House/Three Rivers Press; February 2009; $12.95
Everyone’s looking for something: money, fame, recognition, wonder, love. For most of those things, you’re on your own. But, for the last one, there’s always the personal ads. Blatantly advertising for love can feel very needy and desperate, though – but what if the love is already there (or, at least, you hope it is) and just needs to be coaxed out? That’s the place for the missed connection – I saw you, you winked at me, the subway doors closed, and so on and on. A missed connection, if you’re inclined to think that way, if someone you should have really met and clicked with, but didn’t, quite, because of external circumstances.
Julia Wertz, the cartoonist of the webcomic [[[The Fart Party]]], is one of many people obsessed with missed connections, either checking incessantly to see if someone “missed” them, or just amazed at what some people think a “connection” is. She found herself checking Craigslist several times a day, and then decided to make a minicomic out of missed connection ads. She got many more submissions than she’d expected, and that minicomic anthology eventually blossomed into this book – a collection of comics by nearly a hundred contributors, all illustrating actual missed connections ad, imagining their own missed connections, or just inspired by the idea.
The art – by such folks as Laura Park, Peter Bagge, Sam Henderson, Shannon Wheeler, Shaenon Garrity, Jeffrey Brown, Keith Knight, Jesse Reklaw, and literally dozens more – is interestingly varied, though all basically in the modern indy idiom. There are a couple of “any guy doing this must be really, really creepy” stories, but not as many as I was afraid of – the general feeling of the anthology is to grudgingly accept the possibility of real love, and even more grudgingly accept that it may hit in random places to random people. Oh, it’s not a sunny, happy anthology – could any modern indy-comics collection be? – but it’s varied and thoughtful, with joke strips and quick letdowns alternating with connections with real potential, or just people saying “thanks for a special moment.”
[[[I Saw You]]]…, since it does contain work by so many contemporary cartoonists, is a great sampler of the modern scene – sure, none of this work is anything these creators will ever be known best for, but good work is good work. What particularly impressed me here were strips by Lucy Knisley, Shaenon K. Garrity, Corinne Mucha, Damien Jay, Rama Hughes, Nate Doyle, Mari Nomi, and Laura Park – your list may be completely different, but I have to expect that anyone interested in modern real-life cartooning will find some gems in here. Even if you’re a hopeless anti-romantic like me, I Saw You… has strips to make you laugh and think; it’s a fine cross-section of the best of today’s best and young cartoonists.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
Publishers who would like to submit books for review should contact ComicMix through the usual channels or email Andrew Wheeler directly at acwheele (at) optonline (dot) net.