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EmiTown (Image Comics)

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Emi Lenox's stream-of-consciousness webcomic diary makes the leap to print.

 

400 pgs. two color; $24.99
(W / A: Emi Lenox)
 
There are two reasons I'm wary of webcomic collections. First, art designed for the screen doesn't always translate to the page. Sometimes the comics look too pristine, like they were drawn by robots. The colors are perfectly placed inside the lines with no fading, no errors, nothing out of place. Second, web comics generally fill a very specific niche. That's not a problem. It's the nature of online content. Unlike newspaper strips, webcomics can last while relying on nothing but inside jokes. It doesn't matter that most people won't get it. Most people won't read it.
 
So when webcomics make the transition to print, it's a risky endeavor. It's no longer optional to visit the website to see the work. You're presented it with it in the comics shop. It's there on the shelf (or in your friend's house). Why not browse?
 
It takes good printing and good writing for a web comic to work as a book. EmiTown has both.
 
Online, EmiTown is Emi Lenox's diary comic. On bookshelves, EmiTown is a collection of a year's worth of daily sketches. Like most diary comics, momentum leads to maximum enjoyment: after you read a few pages, you get into a trance. Like the best diary comics, EmiTown sustains that trance. The comic is more stream-of-consciousness than its peers. Shopping lists, random thoughts, and fantasies float by, and it all works. The art shifts from simple cartoons to more realistic exercises, with only hints of narrative. Lenox imagines interactions with animals and draws actual conversations she has with her friends and herself.
 
Her shifts in art reflect changes in emotion and mood. Compared to other diary comics, this may be among the most honest—not because it reveals deep secrets, but because it accurately reflects the highs, lows, and randomness of the human thought process. Lenox is an adept self-censor, so while some pages are just collections of odds and ends, the pages never feel disjointed.
 
The review copy of EmiTown was sent as a PDF, so I can't say whether the web images work in print, but since the comic is drawn with ink on paper, it seems like the translation will work. The PDF looked pristine. The lines were human, but bold. The dual-color layout works very well.
 
EmiTown escapes the trappings of other web comics that go to print, but it goes beyond that. The work is consistent, but almost all the individual pages are better as part of a whole. It works as a 400-page book, but books don't update automatically. So if there's a flaw to EmiTown, it's that it ends. | Gabe Bullard

Visit Emi Lenox's blog at http://www.emitown.blogspot.com/.

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