Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Practically Personal Parody

Not long ago, I received a care package from Brett and Chris at Top Shelf Productions. Among its innards, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, a comic by Somervillain Liz Prince. The pocket-sized paperback is a clear descendent of Jeffrey Brown -- especially given his four-panel introduction -- and contained diarist comics of the sort I appreciate: Brown, James Kochalka, and Ben Snakepit.

For the most part, the volume details the workaday ins and outs of Liz's relationship with her beau Kevin. By turns romantic and affectionate, as well as self-deprecating and somewhat demeaning (Liz is by no means shy in detailing her and Kevin's affectionate foibles), the 71 pages of comics tell a love story that's as notable for its mundanity as it is its meaninfulness.

If you've ever been enamored with a partner's micro-details -- how their armpits give you onion breath, the little spazzy skip step they develop when delighted -- you'll resonate with the details in this comic. Liz's armpits smell like celery, Kevin plays the armonica, they like brushing their teeth together, Kevin saves his belly button lint, they have a special corn on the cob kiss, their cat shares their love, and there's -- surprised? -- a little pee fetish going on.

While I appreciated the openly honest nature of the trivia of Liz's relationship with Kevin, I'm also a big fan of her artwork. Using a somewhat more manga-styled approach to Megan Kelso's style, Liz often includes the initial sketch lines in her final panels. In the end, you get a fully fledged portrayal, along with the preliminary shaping that fills out the form. In some respects, the manner represents the work in progress that all relationships are -- even the longest running -- but it also represents the evolving nature of Liz's storytelling and comics work.

This is the kind of comic that could make or break a couple. And whether Liz and Kevin are still together indicates in some ways what kind of man Kevin is. I wish them only the best as a partnership. And I wish Liz only the best in her comics making. This is a wonderful little item, not to be dismissed for its trivia, but to be elevated for its realistic approach to love and coupledom. Love is greater than the sum of its partners, and we are greater than the sum of our characteristics and quirks.

Ask your current partner if they'll still love you if you wet the bed. See what they say.

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