J ames Kochalka's American Elf: Sketchbook Diaries Book 1 was one of the half dozen stand-out books of 2004. His Book 2 has the same status this year. The good thing about the new one is that it's in colour. I love the way each day's strip is in its own key of colour harmony. I've picked two from the same page which demonstrate this clearly:
Beginning in 1998 Kochalka took the form of daily strip and imbued it with a life that has been missing from it for a long time. Since then he has made sure his daily round is not finished until a strip is done. Another thing I like about it is the way he carefully avoids any taint of 'continuity'. There is no story here, just the eternal incidentalness of life as it is lived. Another little occasional touch I like is that if he finds himself away from home and in the company of a fellow artist he may invite him to join him as a guest (Or 'ghost artist') in that day's strip. It doesn't happen often, but i love it when I spot one. You may have noticed Campbell drawing himself in a strip in the first volume. Indeed, you may even have been the one who complimented James for getting the campbell style just right. Trondheim appeared in a similar capacity. In this volume I see Craig Thompson drawing himself and James on July 19.
I count it as one of the important ongoing bodies of work in the comics field today. he draws himself as an 'elf', his friends as assorted dogs or whatever, and none of this could ever convince you that the thing is not a real and accurate account of the daily life of now. If you can be persuaded that the best way to experience it is to recieve it 'now', that is, as it comes out, he puts it up daily here. And for the bookshelf version, go to Top Shelf.