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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #131

Okay, so yesterday’s column wasn’t as spectacular as I would’ve liked it to be, but it couldn’t be that lame, could it? Aww. Am I not edgy enough? Do I need to turn the Joe Rice dial up to 11? I’ll do it! I will! Watch out, internet! (Christ, I am lamer than I thought.)

Anyway, today’s column is about one of those indie cartoonists that only cool people like. If you are cool, click on through. If you’re uncool, well… the first one’s free. But then you gotta pay.


131. James Kochalka

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James Kochalka, the American Elf, is the author and illustrator of such esteemed works as Monkey vs. Robot, Superf*ckers, Peanut Butter and Jeremy, and his online sketchbook diary, American Elf (didn’t see that one coming, did you?).

The fun thing about James is that he shows an extreme diversity in content. He’s created everything from lovely, all-ages works like Peanut Butter & Jeremy and Pinky & Stinky, to over-the-top and profane mature-readers-only works like Superf*ckers and Fancy Froglin’s Sexy Forest. The best part is, everything’s drawn in the same beautiful manner. Kochalka’s art style is feathery and whimsical, perfect for children and adults who want to remind themselves of what it was like to be a child.

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His most famous work, the daily autobiographical webcomic American Elf, is funny, charming, sad, poignant, and wonderful, containing observations and musings on the ordinary and extraordinary in daily life. I can’t believe he’s been doing it daily since 1998. I couldn’t imagine writing this column for nine years. The man is a machine. A machine of awesomeness.

His other most famous work is Monkey vs. Robot, which is about a monkeys fighting robots. Why? Because everybody loves monkeys and robots.

Another acclaimed work of his is the Cute Manifesto, which is described thusly: “Just think of this as Kochalka’s Dianetics. It’s a powerful mixture of philosophy and comics, and it can literally change your life forever. In a dangerously uncertain world, Kochalka plots a theoretical path to happiness. Collecting some of his most intensely thoughtful work, this book struggles with all the big issues: comics and art, birth and death, technology and joy, and everything in between.” Hot damn!

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Mr. Kochalka is also the lead dude in a band, brilliantly titled James Kochalka Superstar. Some of their songs are pretty damn awesome. Click here to be shanghied to YouTube to watch their “Monkey vs. Robot” music video. It’s hilarious and awesome. For an added bonus, here’s the link to the “Wash Your Ass” video. Their website can be found this link. Bam.

James Kochalka is at the forefront of alternative, independent comics. His works touch the souls and tickle the fancies of many readers throughout the land. He could always use a bigger audience, though, so I hope you pick up one of his works. They’re fun. Don’t take it from me, though, take it from the man himself:

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What’ve you got to say, readers? Is James Kochalka a suitable Reason to Love Comics?


No. I hated Superf*ckers, and the little I’ve heard of his music was terrible too. He seems like the smart-ass punk kid in high school who made everyone laugh but is still peddling the same old schtick twenty years later.

Maybe I need to check out some more of his stuff.

Is James Kochalka a suitable Reason to Love Comics?

I say yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But I’m notoriously easy to entertain.

I love Monkey vs Robot!

And I agree that James Kochalka is definitely a reason to love comics.

Good choice. American Elf is one of my daily web-stops. Some of the resent entries about his son have been really touching.

I’ll second the dislike for Superf*ckers. God, was that a disappointment, and not just a “everybody told me this was awesome and it was only okay” disappointment; it was a “wow, this blows” disappointment.

I liked Monkey vs. Robot, though.

I love everything about James. “Hockey Monkey” is one of the best songs ever written!

His son is just a little older than my own daughter, so I feel like his American Elf is even more relevent to me now.

I’m always amazed at how much personal information he reveals in his strip (and other books). He writes things down that I’d be embarrassed just thinking about! When you read his library of work as a whole, you really get a sense of who he is, and I find him fascinating.

I understand his style is not for everyone, but I just can’t get enough!

Thanks for giving him the spotlight!

Hell yeah Kolchaka is a reason to love comics. He has such a strong passion for any and every type of comics, and he has such a simplisitc yet fascinating style that it works great. He is like a bridge between the Sunday comics and other indie stuff… with a couple of “fucks” thrown in for good measure.

As a huge super-hero fan, I’m disappointed that none of his ‘mainstream’ pitches ever went anywhere.

If not for James Kochalka, I would have recycled all my old comics into toilet paper. He gave me newfound love for the medium in a dark time.

I only wish the last 3 or 4 Legion of Superheroes revamps had been as exciting or cool as SuperF*ckers.

YupYupYup he’s a reason to love comics.

Where was his Hulk story published again? The most recent Annual #1?

I’ve been showing Superf*ckers #4 to all of my friends whenever we’re near a comic store and they’ve all loved it. It’s like the best parts of South Park without any of Trey and Matt’s pseudo-liberatarian preaching and instantly-dated pop culture references. It’s timeless, crude, and utterly hilarious, and anybody who doesn’t like it is dead inside.

You have to do better than that, Dave. I’ve been dead inside ever since I didn’t like Owly!

Okay, in addition to being dead inside, you’re also gaytarded.

Kochalka is definitively a reason to love comics.

Kochalka is totally awesome. He embodies the fun of comics. He’s what you imagine a comic book writer is like when you’re a kid. Hip, wise, cool, and funny.

What little I’ve read of the man seems like typical boring indie stuff to me, but I’ll reiterate that it’s VERY little. Some of MVR and maybe a little PEANUT BUTTER AND JEREMY (that’s Kochalka, right?). Same with the music.

He basically strikes me as the kind of talent that other people like not because he’s particularly good, but rather because he’s different from everyone else.

But I’m really, REALLY

What little I’ve read of the man seems like typical boring indie stuff to me, but I’ll reiterate that it’s VERY little. Some of MVR and maybe a little PEANUT BUTTER AND JEREMY (that’s Kochalka, right?). Same with the music.

He basically strikes me as the kind of talent that other people like not because he’s particularly good, but rather because he’s different from everyone else.

I like a good many independent (i.e., not from the major publishers) comics, but very few “indie” books, so Kochalka really isn’t up my alley. Other folks seem to like him, though, so who am I to complain?

I don’t see how you could really categorize Kochalka as writing a certain type of stuff. Monkey Vs. Robot is really different from American Elf, for example.

I’m still trying to decide what I think of Kochalka. I quite liked the Sketchbook Diaries volume I read, but Monkey vs Robot was pretty nothing.

Mobelius Rodelius

May 17, 2007 at 10:08 am

Pinky and Stinky is a book that your girlfried will read and love. Forget Watchmen or whatever, if you need a gateway to get your girl to read a comic book, drop P&S on her.

James is definitely a reason to love comics.

I do not like him. I think he is neurotic, cruel, and ***unbelievably*** narcissistic. He has his occasional sweet or profound moments, but I think if I were to meet him I would find him unbearably obnoxious.

And yet I read the Sketchbook Diaries daily. Without fail.

So yes, he is definitely a reason to love comics. Anyone so obnoxious that can make ME love him… That is a helluva feat.

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