I Saw You…Missed Connection Comics
Edited by Julia Wertz
Three Rivers Press
Missed connections ads are a mixed bag of emotions: they’re at once funny, sad, creepy, and inspiring. So perhaps it’s only natural that we should turn to them for inspiration and for the creation of great and strange stories. Still, it’s an idea I would never have thought of. Luckily, Julia Wertz did.
Wertz, the creator of the hilarious autobiographical comic The Fart Party, started to find herself obsessed with reading missed connections ads a few years ago, and was struck by the idea of creating comics based on them. She put a call out to fellow cartoonists and received an overwhelming number of submissions, which led to the creation of a mini-comic, which led to a book, appropriately (if unexcitingly) titled I Saw You…, published by Three Rivers Press. As with pages of missed connections ads in newspapers or on Craigslist, I Saw You… is eclectic in terms of the length of the pieces, their tone, and their approach to the assignment. It is also great. The diversity of the content, as well as the overall talent of the contributors, make it an extremely enjoyable read.
The book is divided into six thematic parts that mostly just seem put there to impose some semblance of structure on contents that might otherwise ramble. Reading it is like reading a book of missed connections ads (inevitably entertaining), except better, because there’s more to each piece—each has two personalities (the author of the ad and the artist/interpreter, except for a handful of first-person contributions). Some of the best pieces are the ones that play on this fact, with the cartoonists creating clever stories that add a new layer to the ads from which they are born.
A prime example is one of Laura Park’s contributions, “The Three Women of Sunday,” in which a man whose ad talks about spending Sunday “watching and eating movies with three kind women” (his words) is actually a creepy guy parked outside the window of a ground-floor apartment, voyeuristically peering in and grinning while he sips a drink. David Malki’s piece, “Same Ol’ Saturday Night…” has a similarly witty twist, as the two people who shake with “damp hands” outside a bar bathroom and then go their separate ways to different birthday parties turn out to be clowns, with a particularly great (and slightly disturbing?) end panel of the two clowns having sex against a bathroom sink, of course in costume.
Beyond the twist factor, stories in the book stand out for countless other reasons. Some contributors get points for being charmingly creative—Nate Doyle, Kazimir Strzepek, and Kenny Keil among them—some are just plain funny, including the Daily Cross Hatch’s own Sarah Morean, Wertz (both of hers are quite amusing), Aron Nels Steinke, and a personal favorite, Jeffrey Brown; and still others really show off their artistic talent: Maria Sequeira’s fluid, almost swirling style; Rama Hughes’s bold panels that read almost like sequence of photographs; Aaron Renier’s pages, buzzing and full and nearly bursting.
And then of course there are the cartoonists who found such amazing ads that you wonder whether they spent whole days looking or just got lucky. These range from someone seeking out the doctor who performed her colonscopy (“I thought we hit it off!”) to a man who laments that the cute girl he eyed in the coffee shop pulled out a Mac (“you’ve been deceived by their cheesy ads and mediocre hardware”), to an ad looking for the “gore queen at the S&M party.” It begins, like a kind of craigslist fairy tale, “You were the Asian girl with the hacksaw torturing the helpless child…”