Looking Out for the Little Guy: Wigger Haircut #3: The Diary of Lisa Frank by Zach Hazard Vaupen
Not that I want to seem like the only indie comics I like are by Jordan Piantedosi and/or Zach Hazard Vaupen, but I mean, if I like it then I'm going to buy it, and if I buy it then I'm probably going to write about it.
Wigger Haircut #3: "The Diary of Lisa Frank," is only the efforts of Vaupen, but the two occasionally work together on a comic that sometimes shows up on Piantedosi's Perfect Stars, and just saying, I like it a lot.
Maybe it's just me, but something that combines awkward 12 year old girls, mothers misinterpreting diary entries, jokes on Anne/Lisa Frank and Mad Magazine is just really hilarious. Before even getting into anything about art and style, this comic is funny, and too often people forget how satisfying it is to find a comic that gives you a good laugh, even (or maybe especially?) if a lot of the jokes are kind up fucked up and offensive.
The basic story is that 12 year old Lisa Frank keeps running into this creepy dude, who (spoiler alert) is really God and also the head of Mad Magazine, who is pursuing her because of her natural artistic talent. She writes in her diary about how skeevy he is, which her Mom takes to mean that she got molested.
The pacing of the narrative and comedic timing of a girl stomping up the stairs and throwing herself on her bed because of the stress of days filled with the prepubescent worries of braces, boys, and creepy dudes on the street, then being confronted by her mother wanting to have a serious conversation about the possibility of rape, but immediately being embarrassed into confessing that she wrote "fuck" in her diary is a scenario that definitely needs that blank panel at the end to finish it off. While in this blank space you can assume Lisa is dying of embarrassment even more, you as the reader probably need it to take in the absurdity of what just happened, and consequently, laugh your ass off.
Lisa then runs to the attic for some solace and the inevitable Anne Frank joke ensues, but probably in a different way than you'd imagine. Lisa's minimal expression in the last panel shows how Vaupen's style really punctuates the joke in conveying the helplessness of a young girl who can't even turn to her phantom grandmother for consolation.
Here's another sweet page in which Lisa is running from her also creepy therapist and ends up running into God, and I've just been sitting here giggling about it for like ten minutes but I can't think of anything constructive to say about it, so here you go:
Overall, I really like the way Vaupen sort of uses the hyped up style of independent comics around here without going too overboard and conceptual with it. It's all kind of loosely thrown together and spontaneous (as you can see with the occasional scribbles over mistakes) but there is still always concrete form and a solid flow. The only exception is this panel with the simultaneous action of Lisa turning her head around, but it works well in the context of it's really the only thing like it in the whole comic.
If you live around Baltimore, go to Atomic Books and pick this up, or maybe some of the older Wigger Haircuts, or damn, maybe all of them. If not, check out Vaupen's blog and buy it through him. Plus, you can check out some of his older stuff which indecently, still rules.