Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Simple Stories About Bee Stings

King-Cat Comix and Stories #76 (Spit and a Half, June 2016, $5)
This minicomic by John Porcellino is one of my favorite self-published comics of all time. His work is simple, earthy, loving, and gently important. He reminds me to slow down, live life, and to pay attention to the details and little things that can often go unnoticed. Things like animals, bodies of water, and the wind.

Porcellino now lives in northern Illinois not far from where I grew up in southern Wisconsin. This issue made me miss my former home: its geology, geography, flora, and fauna; and my family still there. The opening text piece "Sinnissippi Days" tells about a spring walk to where the Rock River meets the Pecatonica and the birds seen along the way, including an egret and a cormorant.

Comics, simply drawn, address a project started while waiting for car repairs, living in an unheated apartment, and signs of fall and winter. Porcellino also includes a top 40 (45!) featuring books, records, and experiences; and a nine-page letter column that includes missives from minicomic long-timers Jeff Zenick, Ariel Bordeaux, Jenny Zervakis, and Buzz Buzzizyk.

If you've never read King-Cat, give it a chance. This is a comic series for the ages.

King-Cat Comix and Stories #77 (Spit and a Half, February 2017, $5)
In this issue of the best minicomic ever, John Porcellino mixes past and present, telling simple stories about bee stings while a youth, a possum who got into a shed, a let toad during childhood, finding a caterpillar, and the presence of cougars in Illinois. He also adapts a portion of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology.

Editorial content includes jokey nature notes, a list of pet names—nicknames!—for beloved pets, a four-page letter column featuring correspondence from Jenny Zervakis and others, and a top 40 (24!).

This issue feels less gentle and soothing to me, more matter of fact. Regardless, the creative credits for "Night of the Living Possum" are hilarious, Patrick Porter's letter is worth reading, and the "Willie Metcalf" adaptation is beautiful. "On spring days I tramped through the country to get the feeling, which I sometimes lost, that I was not a separate thing from the Earth." This comic is as fresh as a spring tramp. We are not separate things.

Availability: You can order from P.O. Box 142, South Beloit, Illinois 61080, as well as online. Additional material has been collected in King-Cat Classix and Map of My Heart.

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