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Jay's Days
Written and drawn by Jason Marcy
Published by Landwaster Books

Jason Marcy is really excited to be creating comics.

Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, although it has its rough edges, Jay's Days, Marcy's debut graphic novel, is a refreshingly blunt and honest expression from a creator who comes off as pretty much a regular guy who just really, really likes comics, and decides to do one of his own.

Unlike a lot of people, though, Marcy takes this inspiration and uses it to create a personal work about his life, and the lives of the people around him. Usually the desire to do comics is twisted and marginalized until the once-enthusiastic young artist is cranking out bland, generic superhero funnybooks for an audience that neither cares or even much notices. Maybe it helps that Marcy is Canadian, and it almost certainly helps that he appears to be opinionated and driven. You can't be doing this for ten years (as Marcy says he has) without something propelling you forward.

Jay's Days is a collection of short stories, vignettes, that range from the comedic to the near-tragic, and (thankfully) to the life-affirming. I am reminded most of the work of Harvey Pekar, who Marcy not only emulates but mentions in one story as both an insipration and a cautionary example of where all this may lead (read: the poorhouse).

Much as with Pekar's American Splendor, you're reading these stories not for the cool artwork and visceral excitement, but for the glimpse inside the head of the creator. While Marcy has a bit of a road to travel before he becomes as riveting as Pekar (who is, after all, decades older, and perhaps a bit wiser, not to say more cynical), he opens up many of the same barriers to the soul, allowing us to see his fears, joys, strengths and weaknesses.

The early stories here about working in a record store quickly give way to more personal stories of concern for a sick co-worker, and an estrangement from his father. While both are ripe topics for autobiographical comics, I would have liked more detail, especially with the story about Jay's father. Why were they estranged? We see much hand-wringing over their eventual reunion, but once that occurs (at a relative's funeral), all is suddenly well, all awkwardness is gone. I don't buy that for a second. There's a part of the story we're not getting here, and I'm intrigued enough to want to know more.

The artwork is weak in spots, although sufficient to tell the tale. Marcy should consider a finer line to bring out the same sensitivity in his images that he hints at in his words. In addition, his squinty-faced depiction of himself often works at cross-purposes with revealing the inner detail he obviously seeks to bring out. Open those eyes, Jay, and tell us what you're thinking!

Jay's Days Volume Two is on the slate for February, 2002. I look forward not only to seeing where the characters go from here, but to seeing what progress Marcy has made in his development as an artist by then. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane



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