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Snake Pit 2009 | Ben Snakepit

A perfect bound volume of 3 panel daily diary comics by Ben Snakepit was an enjoyable read for me. I love reading published journals, and have for most of my life. Years ago, I read C.S. Lewis’ huge journal cover to cover, and just enjoyed the mundane details that were, for some reason, recorded (he took a lot of walks with a cat). Ben and I have both found ourselves in Delaine’s NMSD club over the years, and it was nice to finally have a volume of his in my hands. Starting with 2009 seems an odd choice, especially since Ben frequently ponders whether his daily comix journal is still worth doing. He seems to think, in this volume, that his life has become too boring, too repetitive. And indeed, he repeatedly shows himself at his day job in front of a bunch of video tapes waiting for customers, but I love this. The sheer act of recording this daily grind without apology seems so rebellious to what most of us would do in this situation. Most people would just let the job take over our lives, but Ben harnesses his retail job in his comic, and so keeps his power over it. I can’t think of a more punk rock thing to do, really. It’s how life goes … things seem exciting and much more “story-worthy” when we’re young, but it’s the ability to enjoy the small moments of each day that we end up growing towards, and I enjoy reading these kinds of diaries the most.

Bottoms Up! True Tales of Hitting Rock – Bottom! | Various

Another perfect bound anthology from Birdcage Bottom Books. This one is 249 pages strong, and contains comix by cartoonists about addiction. Sometimes the cartoonist is the subject of the tale, and other times they have illustrated someone else’s story. I ate this volume up. Every story was worth it, and it felt like attending an AA meeting without the silly chants and prayers. There are some truly heartbreaking stories in here where people lose it all, knowing full well they are losing it, but being powerless to stop themselves. I found it fascinating the various levels of “rock bottom” that people would hit, and how some felt self-conscious about hitting one that didn’t measure up to the low level that is often stereotyped as the sort of bottom an addict has to hit. One of my favorites was by Rachel Dukes. The anthropomorphic true-life comic is an atypical choice. Matt Rota’s piece is haunting, and follows the trail of some kids and their addictions to homelessness and death. Brendan Kiefer’s piece was the funniest. This character that he follows is so ridiculously self-centered, and it left me wondering if ever a moment of clarity was so superficial. Adam Yeater created a rare true-life comic for this anthology, but in true Adam form, kept it pretty much wordless throughout. As many of this stories are, Adam’s was a great window into what can happen to some in a moment of loneliness and despair. JT Yost does a great piece playing with decorative text as part of the narration. I really enjoyed this book, and will keep coming back to these stories more than I will the stories in the Big Book.

You can find Snake Pit 2009 and Bottoms Up! From JT Yost’s micropublishing company Birdcage Bottom Books:

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