Comics Time: Studio Visit

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Studio Visit

James McShane, writer/artist

self-published, April 2010

48 pages

I don’t know how much it costs

Contact James McShane, I bet he can hook you up with a copy

Like his excellent minicomic Archaeology, James McShane’s Studio Visit explores the intersection of memory and environment. And like the cleverly conceived but ultimately more interesting in practice than in theory log-comic from Kramers Ergot and Ivan Brunetti’s Yale Anthology of Graphic Fiction, it explores the Heisenbergian interaction of lived experience and the recording thereof. It’s not as successful a comic as the former, nor as flat a comic as the latter. What it is is gestural, I think–McShane’s minimal lines, both of art and narration, get across a day in the life, from aspects of his daily routine to memories of past experiences evoked by objects he comes across in his house to his thoughts on process and his past works. That last bit’s maybe the most interesting–I was fascinated to hear that Archaeology was assembled in an almost Burroughsian cut-up fashion, and I also appreciated the quiet confidence in his explanation of how his very formal methods make him a better observer of what’s worth drawing. I think his…taste, maybe? gets away from here a bit–the memories he recounts of fun adventures in nature with friends are a bit on the twee side, the balletic image he chooses to represent “presenting the mundane with elan” is knowingly cheesy but cheesy nonetheless, and his vision of “growing” a story is depicted with too-literal gardening imagery. But the book isn’t intended to be anything more than what the title implies: a visit to the space, mental and physical, McShane inhabits when he works. This is where he was working on that particular day. It’s the recording of a step on a path, not of a destination reached.