Post-Stumptown Short: DAR #2

by
DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Diary Comic #2
By Erika Moen
minicomic, $4

AFTER SUPERHEROES, autobiography is probably the second most common genre in comics. I suspect the reason is some combination of the fact that a single artist can make a comic themselves––the way they can’t a film or a play––and the way that the pick-up readability of comics makes short autobiographical stories more inviting than prose that reads like someone’s diary. In any event, there are a lot of them, and we’ve all read a lot of them, so a successful one needs something to set it apart.

DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary has that in Erika Moen’s exuberant tone. I picked it up at Stumptown, after Moen called me over to her table to learn to make an origami star. Remembering that it had won three Trophy Awards the night before, I bought one, enchanted by the cover image of Moen grinning and ready to take on the world astride a Segway. I can’t remember the last time I read an autobiographical comic in which it looked like the artist had this much fun drawing it. The insides are filled with wide smiles, broad gestures and tons of exclamation points.

Moen’s art style is loose and cartoony, her people outlined in thick, smooth lines, with simple, appealing faces. It’s not entirely consistent and the digital tones suffer from the photocopying, but it’s clear, and a perusal of darcomic.com (where the strips printed here first appeared) shows that Moen is steadily improving. Each page is a self-contained comic strip, and they cover a lot of ground, ranging from cooking mishaps to flights of fancy on the unstoppable power of Segway cops to mildly dirty fare, but all with a tremendous sense of fun about it.

Another nice touch is the inclusion of “making of” material––photo reference, backgrounds shown without the main characters obscuring them––which is rare for a handmade mini-comic. Comics can be made any number of ways, and webcomics tend to employ different techniques than print comics, so a few pages providing insight into the digital assembly of the strip is a welcome addition.

I’ve added DAR to my list of bookmarked webcomics and highly recommend seeking out the print edition. It’s a fun read and Moen shows potential to eventually fulfill the dream of being a professional cartoonist that she chronicles in its pages.

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