And Then One Day #3

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005
By: Steve Saville

Cover of And Then One Day #3 Creator(s): Ryan Claytor
Publishers: Elephant Eater Comics (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $2(US)

Reading Volume 3 of Ryan Claytor's heavily autobiographical comic is a bit like having a chat with a good friend that you only catch up with a couple of times a year. One of those friends that you don't think about too much until you bump into them and straight away you remember what a nice person they really are. It is very obvious that Ryan is a really nice guy, his comic oozes niceness. The speech bubble in the shower scene is strategically placed to avoid embarrassment, both Ryan's and ours. It even has a birds egg blue cover that feels all soft and fuzzy. In places it is kind of like a gentle Too Much Coffee Man.
This is a tiny comic but a passionate one. One that captures life in California quite accurately, so naturally Ryan does spend quite a few panels sitting in traffic jams.

The comic strips within cover a wide range of the creator's life experiences, from Ryan's embarrassing hernia through to truck rallies and job interviews. Each page concerns itself with the events of one particular day, so overall the comic operates as a visual diary. As well as the mundane Ryan also contemplates his place in the cosmos, albeit briefly as he only has a few minutes between classes.

Some of the most endearing strips are those that investigate the relationship between the adult Ryan and his aging parents. It charts the same territory covered by recent American sitcoms such as “Everybody Loves Raymond” and George in “Seinfield”.

Overall each of these little slices taken from Ryan's outstandingly ordinary life has its own charm. Some though do suffer a little from a lack of context. This could be because I have not read the first two volumes but the single panel covering the poker game and the strip related to the Renaissance fair need just seem to exist in a bit of a void.

On the other hands there are some quite wonderful pages. Personal highlights include the visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The frustration evident in this strip is universal and the creative block featured in the last panel strikes a chilling resonance with comic creators the world over. I am a little confused though as to why in his moment of enlightenment Ryan takes on a "bling" persona. The strips concerned with Ryan's job as a teacher in the local community college provide telling insights to the everyday worries and fears that plague us all while the hernia strip is the funniest and also the one that accurately captures just how embarrassing life actually can be.

Overall the strips work better when they form part of a sequence. When the sequence is concerned with Ryan's fears the impact is enhanced even more.

And Then One Day is a well drawn, tidy comic with some commendable use of cross hatching. And hey it is worth buying any comic that portrays Art Spiegelman as a Superman figure.

In a Word: Affectionate..

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