erasing clouds

Book Review: James Kochalka, Peanutbutter & Jeremy's Best Book Ever!

by anna battista

In our universe everything is grey and dull. Days go relentlessly by, one identical to the other, often empty, usually boring. We are bored, the people who surround us are bored, even our pets seem to be bored. But there are exceptions. There are a few human beings among us who think they live in the most coloured, funny and thrilling universe. The lives of these people are full of fun and irony and pets in their world can talk, be sarcastic and even be horny. Cartoonist James Kochalka is one of these people. Kochalka, who has recently released his latest book, a collection of comic strips entitled Peanutbutter & Jeremy's Best Book Ever (Alternative Comics), is certainly not your average cartoonist: he's won and has been nominated to many comics awards, has published loads of comics for adults and children and he's also released quite a few albums since he plays with his own band, James Kochalka Superstar, (the Kochalka fans among you will also remember his graphic novel Kissers, published in 1999, which came out with a CD).

Peanutbutter & Jeremy's Best Book Ever is miles away for its main theme and main characters from Kochalka's comic diary Sketchbook Diaries, which narrate the adventures of Magic Boy, an elfish guy often used as the cartoonist's alter ego. Kochalka's latest book explores the theme of friendship through the adventures of two characters, Peanutbutter, a sweet cat with an obsession for hats and ties who thinks she works in an office, and Jeremy, a bad-tempered crow whose main aim in life seems to be managing to steal Peanutbutter's cherished hats. Including nine realistic but fantastic stories, often with bizarre titles such as "The Flumdummer Account" or "The Fibbledibble File", Peanutbutter & Jeremy's Best Book Ever presents in Kochalka's minimalist and simplistic style, some of his cutest stories and characters (check out all the different cats in "The Birthday Party" story).

This new release is published by Alternative Comics and comes after Kochalka's Triple Dare #2 and his major graphic novel Fantastic Butterflies (both published by Alternative Comics in 2002). Warning: they say James Kochalka's comics might be addictive. We strongly recommend to read them at your peril.

The minicomic, "The Cute Manifesto", a manifesto about cuteness in art, drawn as a comic, is now available directly from: James Kochalka, P.O. Box 8321, Burlington, VT 05402, U.S.A.

Issue 19, January 2004

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