My Alaskan Summer
by Corinne Mucha
Bless the Xeric Grant. Without it, what would have happened to Corinne Mucha‘s adorable travelogue? At 96 pages, it’s too long to be a self-published mini and it lacks a main thesis that would draw in a publisher. Still, the sweet, meandering drawings and stories are too good to lay forgotten in some sketchbook. With Mucha’s unique multimedia mode of design, cultivated illustration style and quirky storytelling voice, the Xeric seems to have been the perfect backer to print this lovely book.
My Alaskan Summer is the sort of book I always expect to see rolling from the Xeric-funded presses but rarely do. The Xeric Foundation is a great resource for cartoonists whose work deserves attention in the world of indie comics, those who don’t need the design assistance of a publishing house, and for projects that are too ambitious to meet hand-made mini standards. However, Xerics are often awarded to small potatoes productions and saddle-stitched operations as well as truly outstanding books, so in this case it’s important to make the distinction that here is a book truly in-line with the fund’s core vision and this is one artist in particular you should notice. The result of these combined efforts is something markedly indie and personal and funny and thick and hopefully en route to your local comic book store: Mucha’s My Alaskan Summer.
On the heels of Into the Wild and Grizzly Man (two Alaskan adventure stories gone awry) and the shocking introduction of Sarah Palin to mainstream American politicking, most people are just starting to realize there actually is a state nestled on the shoulder of Canada – and they’re starting to form an opinion of it. Mucha’s story about a summer spent working with her boyfriend at a family-owned Bed & Breakfast dispels and explores some of the myths surrounding “The Last Frontier” but mostly relates quaintly one version of a girl’s first foray into adulthood after graduating from college. Without directly attacking big topics like oil and ecotourism, Mucha gently skirts these issues while she talks realistically and figuratively about the highs and lows of living in Alaska.
Mucha personifies objects throughout the book, acting out delightful imaginary conversations that address restaurant food, vacuuming and excess daylight. A highlight comes when her boyfriend-at-the-time Sam grumbles about what’s wrong with Alaska and points out the flaws of their local newspaper. He complains about the inferior Anchorage Daily News, preferring his beloved New York Times, and in response to his sigh, “Oh Times. I miss you,” the next panel shows the Times at a desk with a window overlooking the New York cityscape, dreamily touching a picture of Sam and saying “I miss you, too.”
The style of Mucha’s illustration is focused but chaotic, implementing all sorts of textural elements and Gumby-like motions with quick swipes of ink applied all over by a single pen. It has the overall effect of a greeting card image in some respects.
The images are rendered in black and white, the book is perfect bound with a color cover. It’s available from the artist’s website for $10, or at last weekend’s SPX at the debut price of $8 (provided you have access to a time machine).
– Sarah Morean