Monday, November 10, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday: Jim's Journal, by Scott Dikkers

I Went to College and It Was Okay, by Jim (aka Scott Dikkers). Published 1991 by Andrews McNeel Publishing.

Click here to buy I Went To College and It Was Okay from your local IndieBound-affiliated independent bookseller.

Today's Graphic Novel Monday pick is a sentimental favorite of mine- the Jim's Journal series by Scott Dikkers, former owner and editor-in-chief of The Onion. Back when I started reading Jim's Journal, in high school, there was no Onion (or even really an internet), but there was this charming, extremely low-key, almost Zen-like comic strip that ran in college newspapers around the country, about a regular guy named Jim and his adventures in school, work, and life. For a while this first collection, I Went to College and It Was Okay, was the only collection but over the years several more have been published: I Got a Job and It Wasn't That Bad, I Made Some Brownies and They Were Pretty Good, and I Got Married If You Can Believe That.

Dikkers' artistic style is minimalist to the max- iconic stick figures with barely-articulated features and just enough background to establish places and scenes. Even Jim's cat, Mr. Peabody, is barely a smudge. Jim's Journal did run in newspapers, and it is presented in a nearly-unwavering four-panel style with no color and simple dialogue. Jim drifts through life rather aimlessly, first through college and later through adulthood and a job at a copyshop. He has some friends, but they don't seem to be terribly close and Jim's emotional life is simple and uncomplicated. Most days he goes to work and comes home, puts his feet up to watch TV and feeds his cat. Late in the series he marries Becky, a nice enough girl who seems well-suited to Jim's laid-back approach to life.

Jim's Journal isn't for everybody- a lot of people will probably find it flat-out boring- but it's pretty clean and if you like your humor dry and your emotional insights slight but still moving, the Jim's Journal series might be a good fit. I absolutely adore it for his quiet tone and its matter-of-fact, honest depiction of everyday life as lived by an absolutely average guy. As a newspaper comic I'm not sure it even counts as a graphic novel but I really wanted to tell you about it anyway!