Journal Sanders Vol. 1: Kentucky Fried Sketchbook (Low Key Comics)

sanders-header.jpgCartoonist Juan Ruvalcaba documents the boredom of everyday life and the soul-sucking experience of living in Los Angeles in this daily sketch diary.




100 pgs. B&W; $8.00
(W / A: Juan Ruvalcaba)

If there is a triumph in Juan Ruvalcaba’s sketchbook diary, it is that he manages to make ennui feel like ennui. When the young artist eats a hamburger, sees a movie, goes out drinking, moves to a new apartment, etc., etc. he draws the experience to impress upon the reader the everyday boredom of it all. By the time you’re done digesting his daily visual record of three months of life, it feels like you’ve finally completed a long voyage across a flat sea. (And in fact, it’s published by "Low Key Comics.")

That’s not to say he doesn’t wring wit and humor from the tale of his life, every few pages. Entries like "Places I Shat Today" and "Actual People I Saw Today," featuring wretches of the street in dire need of dental work, made me guffaw.

The cover to Journal Sanders vol. 1 by Juan Ruvalcaba. Click for a larger image.The author moved from Chicago to LA to work in the Post Production dept. at New Line Cinema in ’08. At the urging of friends, he kept this journal in comics form, but rather than probing the dynamics of his job, or his opinions of his friends, or his lovelife, or any sort of revealing interior moments, the one-page strips tend to be about sitting on the couch playing Grand Theft Auto and which horror movies he’s seen lately. Yes, that’s life, but maybe the lingering lesson here is that it’s not so easy to write entertainingly about nothing, a la Harvey Pekar.

I was waiting for more entries like the one in which he shares a drawing he made of the more than 600 Post-It notes he affixed to his living room wall. Each one looks like it had its own odd mini-drawing. I thought that was quirky and cool.

Ruvalcaba drew these ditties on lined paper, with thick black pens, and the high-school-notebook vibe is fun. He excels at drawing funny faces, and he’s a charming artist.

He might consider another sketchbook, in which he writes not daily, but only when he has something meaningful to share. Most of us would be hard-pressed to entertain the masses with a story a day. Anyone who suffers through multiple daily Facebook updates from some marginal friend with nothing interesting to say knows how it goes. | Byron Kerman

Click here to order Journal Sanders from Below, check out a 5-page preview of Journal Sanders Vol. 1 courtesy of Low Key Comics.

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