Reviewing Important Comics [Part 4 of 5]

Relax (Self-Published by Dina Kelberman): Relax was selected as one of “The 30 Best Mini-Comics of 2011” at The Comics Journal by fellow Poopsheet Foundation reviewer Rob Clough, whose critical eye I respect immensely, so I was very excited to check it out. In short, it delivered! Some of the little quirks about Dina Kelberman’s previous work that I think might push out more lay audiences evaporated in this project, and she also included some of my personal favorite aspects of her work, so this one definitely hit on all cylinders for me. First off, the larger size format (9 x 7.5 inches for this one-shot) is just more impressive to behold and suits the bold primary color palette of her work well. With the larger page size, your eye is able to roam the pages more freely, rather than feeling a bit constricted in her earlier collections of web-comics. Kelberman bills this book as an autobio project about trying to avoid the tendency to be uptight. Honestly, I’d prefer to see more original work like this from her vs. collections of prior strips, but maybe that’s just me. Relax chronicles her efforts to put her shoulders down and get a decent night’s sleep; she “started doing yoga” and “quit drinking coffee” all trying to just… relax. This type of project offers more of a narrative throughline to grasp, features a more identifiable recurring character, and highlights her terrific colors, which I’ve quickly grown to love. It is, perhaps, the best example of her work to date. Through various experimentation with drugs, massage, or even quitting the internet (gasp!), she proclaims “I will quiet my mind if it fucking kills me.” That page is immaculate, full of beautiful color, particularly swaths of red which pull the eye across the spread. Kelberman weighs the pros and cons of trying to make a change or just giving up and accepting life as is. In the process, she comes to one of the ultimate realizations in life, that you have to want to change, you have to find the willingness within, it’s nothing anyone else can tell you or any fad you can easily chase, but you have to come to the decision on your own terms. Grade A.


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