Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “slice-of-life” comics pay their wages with presentation. The volume of mundane things that a good creative can turn interesting is astounding.
For an example, let me introduce Johnny Wander. It’s one of those comics that are very popular but I’ve never gotten around to reading, much to my chagrin.
Yuko and Ananth are, predictably, the stars of the comic. Off and on roommates flank them, as well as Yuko’s parents, making up the supporting cast. I hesitate to comment on their characters, as they are real people, albeit stylized and exaggerated. The same goes for the plots; it’s basically roommates, cats, parents, and the fact that Yuko looks like a boy, supposedly. Like a scramble-headed real estate might say, “It’s all about presentation, presentation, presentation”.
Speaking of presentation, let’s talk about the art. I’ve discovered that I may have a love for irregular composition. Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name is one, Dresden Codak another, and so on. And while Johnny Wander doesn’t throw composition to the wind, it is irregular enough to scratch that itch. Oh, and the pictures are pretty too. Yes, I am a philistine, what of it?
There’s a separate story called The Girl With The Skeleton Hand as well, and it’s very good. What I assume is Death makes an appearance as the nervous gentleman trying to court the world’s more easygoing woman. While I rarely have time for “romantic” stories, the interactions between the two people are actually very well done. Personifying Death is a fragile balance between faux-badass and emo, but it’s usually worthwhile if you can pull it off, and the Woman is easy to sympathize with. In all, it’s beautifully drawn, cleverly written, and I wish that there was more.
I loved Johnny Wander. There aren’t many S-o-L comics worth reading, and a much smaller fraction of those will push you to re-read. They have earned themselves a reader, I will tell you that.