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Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man
Writer/Artist: John Porcellino
Published by La Mano; $12.00 USD

John Porcellino is well known to serious comics fans as the creator of King-Cat Comics, one of the most famous and long-running series of mini-comics of all time. The format of his new book is similar to that of Perfect Example, an earlier collection of King-Cat stories originally published by Highwater Books. Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man does not quite reach the level of quality put forth by its predecessor, but is nevertheless a worthy companion volume.

As the title suggests, the new book collects all of the stories from Porcellino’s mini-comics chronicling his adventures as a mosquito abatement man (exterminator), as well as presenting several pages of never before published material. While this may sound like a shaky foundation upon which to construct a graphic novel, Porcellino in fact succeeds in crafting a compelling story, one in which he develops a deeper appreciation for the world around him, and ultimately comes up against some hard questions in regards to his occupation. The penultimate, previously unpublished chapter, “Death of a Mosquito Abatement Man,” is the strongest in the book. Here, Porcellino details his struggles with a bizarre illness, and how this leads him towards a renewed interest in spirituality in general, and Buddhism in particular. When he realizes that his occupation conflicts with his Buddhist beliefs, Porcellino is forced to re-examine his career, the career we have experienced with him throughout the book. It is a powerful experience, both for Porcellino and for the reader.

Fans of John Porcellino won’t be surprised to learn that the story is crafted in an appealingly straightforward style, with simple, delicate line work and carefully chosen dialogue that achieves an effect not unlike poetry. What may surprise some, particularly those unfamiliar with the earliest of the King-Cat minis, is the sharp contrast in the drawing style found in the earlier chapters, compared to the later work. The first few strips in this book are rendered in a sketchy, crude style, which can at times detract from the narrative. Because of the decision to include all of the mosquito strips, we are left with a somewhat uneven collection. However, I sort of enjoyed watching Porcellino’s drawing style evolve as the book progressed, and it is interesting that Porcellino evolves as a person as he evolves as an artist, right there on the page for all to see. It’s not a bad experience to sit down and read a book that just keeps getting better and better, after all.

I recommend Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man as a very good book from a creator whom serious fans of sequential art should get to know. Grade: 4/5

-- Pat Markfort



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