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Perfect Example

Post #839 • July 27, 2006, 11:59 AM • 6 Comments

I'm about five weeks older than John Porcellino. Thus I can vouch for the veracity of his memoir of life after high school, stories that appeared in King-Cat collected into a volume entitled Perfect Example and published by Drawn & Quarterly. He captures details of the time that might qualify as emblematic: listening to Camper Van Beethoven and R.E.M. (the title is a Hüsker Dü lyric), flannel shirts tied around waists, skateboarding, girlfriends with spiky hair and Cure shirts. He also carefully renders the psychological miasma of adolescence, the kind that prompts one to lie face down into a pillow and wonder what it all means. I can vouch for the veracity of that too, because I experienced it well into my mid 20s. Teenage angst is so pathetic in its shallowness and banality that I can see real danger in trying to turn it into viable storytelling, but Porcellino makes it work beautifully. His lightness of style saves it from becoming melodramatic, and he works it into a larger framework that includes bewilderment about girls, friends suddenly acting differently, listening to music, arguing about which band is better, sitting around at night talking and drinking booze bought with a fake ID, pulling away from parents, and wondering about college.

Porcellino illustrates the everyday with such tenderness that it becomes important in spite of itself. Henry Miller once said, "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself." Nothing about Porcellino's subject or style is extraordinary, but close attention and pure strength of heart make both ring with palpable truth.

John Porcellino, panel from Perfect Example, 2005, © John Porcellino, courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

John Porcellino, panel from Perfect Example, 2005, © John Porcellino, courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

John Porcellino, panels from Perfect Example, 2005, © John Porcellino, courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

John Porcellino, panels from Perfect Example, 2005, © John Porcellino, courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

Comment

1.

jordan

July 27, 2006, 7:07 PM

The first one ! Is this just me or most all of us?

2.

alesh

July 27, 2006, 9:35 PM

a friend just loaned me this one, which was, against all odds (based on the title?), great. amazing.

he captures the feelings, but isn't his drawing anti-art?

(and yes: i am stupid)

3.

oldpro

July 28, 2006, 9:36 AM

?? This stuff looks pretty thin to me. Am I missing something?

Maybe it is one of those generational things.

4.

Oak

July 28, 2006, 10:20 AM

Looks thin to me too.

5.

Franklin

July 28, 2006, 10:57 AM

It even looks a little thin to me, and if it were trying to pass as fine art, I probably wouldn't buy it (excepting the second image, which I think is lovely). But in its context it fits and works well with the writing.

Anti-art? It's actually crafted to pretty specific rules, Alesh.

Jordan, you, me, probably a lot of other creatives...

6.

david

August 3, 2006, 4:58 PM

I like the first one ok the rest alot less kinda like 'PEANUTS" tho not as minimal.

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