The Bird Is The Word
Jerry’s Journal (Self-Published by Neil “Jam” Fitzpatrick): Billed as a companion piece to the contemplative Everythingness, Jerry’s Journal is a more focused journey spinning-off the little bird’s escapades from the artist’s first-ever sketchbook strips. It’s got all that humorous existential dilemma we’ve come to expect from Fitzpatrick, or from his bird stand-in anyway. Jerry essentially asks “what makes a life?” Through the course of the book, it’s amazing how much emotional expression Fitzpatrick is able pull out from just two inky eye blots, with just the slight upturn of a beak or the small downturn of a mouth. With just a few stray representational lines, Fitzpatrick is also able to insinuate convincing background details, brick walls, the side of a house, clouds, fences, or even God. For some reason, I was reminded of the more introspective Peanuts strips, the ones with Chuck’s foibles, him feeling like nobody cares, wondering what his great contribution is, if he’d ever find love, pondering why things go wrong, and all the various insecurities that fill our daily activities. The kernel of wisdom that Jerry’s Journal remembers is the idea that what matters in life is not that shit happens, but how we react to it that counts. The only significant critique I can offer is that, being a collection of strips, the “story” is fairly limited in terms of sequential narrative, it’s more of a repetitive theme, but that’s overshadowed by the playful interaction with the reader. I liked Jerry breaking the fourth wall and staring at me and laughing for a change, or, for example, the dynamic in the strip “Uh… Where Is He?” Here we learn that your strip can’t just start without you. It’s a great reminder that we’re all the main character of our own story. Grade A-.