Or, as I call it, the book with the longest title I’ve ever reviewed! Anyway, for being such a lover of comics and the Portland comic scene in particular, I have no idea why I never read Erika’s work until the 2009 Stumptown Comics Fest. Just file it under crap I’ve massively failed at; and that is one hell of a file. None of that matters now, for I’ve read DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary and am in full on fanboy love with Erika Moen and her completely shameless style and humor. Picking up her book at the Lady Parts Show at Sequential Art Gallery last week, I’ve read DAR 4 times cover-to-cover and each time it makes me chortle. Yes, chortle. The kind of laugh that only happens when you’re both shocked and amused at what just jumped from the page. Somehow, Erika takes what some might consider “locker room” or “potty” jokes and makes them both relatable and kinda’, well, sweet. Yup, DAR is filled with the sweetest and smartest fart, boob, penis, and vagina jokes you’ll ever read.
But don’t for once think that is all that’s going on in DAR.
There are some serious emotional and social issues happening between page 1 and page 104. Grasping with her own sexual identity as a “lesbian that happens to love one boy” and how others may or may not view her life choices, Erika never once holds back. (Sometimes to the chagrin of her past and current partners). But even with those issues, DAR faces them with a wink and a smile. To quote the book, “Whatever. We’re getting laid”! Really, who can argue with that logic? No one. (Well, maybe the Oregon City Dairy Queen, as their wee-brained manager felt the book shouldn’t be read in their establishment). Why? Well, the book is packed with boobies, wieners, and who-haws. The poor children of Oregon City must be protected!
Well, I couldn’t disagree more. Would I let some little kid read DAR? Well, no. Would I let someone in their early teens pick it up? Hell yes I would. Never once are Erika’s depictions of the human form salacious or graphic. Just the opposite in fact. The naughty bits are just kinda’ there, you know, like in real life and shit. Indeed, the humor Erika uses to grasp her own emotions and conflicts would be a boon to many a teen. Hell, a book like DAR would have been a great help for me back in the day. Would it have made everything better? Naw, cause been a teen sucks ass. Would it have made me laugh knowing this crap happens to everyone? Hell yes!
As one that can’t draw to save his life I always feel odd commenting on the art. Still, I know clean lines and expression when I see them. Erika’s work in DAR has it! In fact, it is interesting to watch her grow as an artist throughout the book as it covers almost three years of her life. Her simple-looking lines are extremely expressive and even without words, you know what Erika is saying. As Scott McCould states on the cover of DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary, “Erika Moen’s comics make me feel like dancing!” I’m willing to bet they will do the same to you, because her work has that kind of effect on you. Now go out and find her work at www.darcomic.org, buy her book, and get to chortling!