Personal bloggers retire every day. It happens in waves in my Google Reader. Two down here, two down there. No one wants to fill the internet with the inane details of a day anymore. Unfortunately, that’s still what I like to read. I call it “The Curse of Knowing Who Eric Nies Is Syndrome,” or “Coming of Age at the Onset of Reality Television.” More than status updates and Tweets and links on Google+. I’m a sucker for the “And then we went to Trader Joe’s and I couldn’t find my car keys and.”
Cut to Vanessa Davis, one of my favorites in the comics biz, and her book Spaniel Rage, created right in the meat of the personal blogging era. This collection is like blogging on paper with a pencil.
For a long time I’ve been wondering about The Life As Art. This is a reality TV-memoir hybrid that crosses artistic genres. What if every day you made something to represent something that happened that day. A drawing, a paragraph, a paper mache head. What would that compilation look like after 365 days? This would be a project that starts at Point A and finishes at Point Z, but the artist would have no idea what would happen at Point Z, even when they were at Point M. Would there be themes? Would the things that were considered highlight-worthy change in the course of a year? And just as important: What about the things that weren’t included. And, for the artist, at the end of the project they’d have lived an entire year as the subject of an art project in addition to just living an ordinary life.
Davis does this, kind of. The collection is a series of journal drawing she did between 2003 and 2004. Each is a self-contained entry marked with a date. There are no real themes or points of connection between the drawings, although co-stars sometimes make a return. There is Vanessa Davis wondering if her roommate is wearing her underwear and still glowing from a Junior Senior concert the previous night. She has a good hair day or she questions her relationships with dudes. She lies on the couch and watches 80s classics or goes to a dance party.
Some of these drawings are half-finished, eraser marks still visible. She’s inconsistent with her use of pen and pencil. I’m not sure why she does this, but it kind of adds to the whole charming package of Vanessa Davis, who is super relatable in her normalcy and itty-bitty fits of neurosis.