URL: http://www.smackjeeves.com/comicprofile.php?id=138499
Author: Beiatrix Pedrasa
Genre: Autobiographical
Schedule: Completed

Y O U R C O R N E R deserves some sort of award for the most awkwardly written title and hardest to search for. Even worse, searching “Your Corner” on Smack Jeeves, there doesn't seem to be any other comic with the same name, which makes the shifting around of letters, understandable if someone was already squatting on the title, completely arbitrary and annoying. Can't say the same for the comic itself though. It's a short comic, but manages to pack meaning with artistic motifs to enhance the writing. The art and lettering could be cleaner though, but it's a decent enough read and shows that the author has promise.

The comic is based on the author's life in New York, realizing that despite being in a city that's supposedly diverse, most people seclude themselves into certain neighborhoods based on race and class. She experiences what other parts of the city have to offer, and though still getting over her past biases, she still encourages others to do the same.

There's very little dialogue or scenes to really speak of. Most of the writing in the comic is done through caption boxes of the author sharing her thoughts about past experiences, re-examining previously held beliefs, and coming to a conclusion based on her musings. The overall theme of the comic, that people should get out of their comfort zones and explore their surroundings, isn't exactly groundbreaking or profound, but the fact that the author makes the story personal by talking about their own experiences and biases is what makes the story read true as a person who's learned something new and is telling a friend rather than if they just told you to do those things, which would come off as preachy. The author even mentions that they still feel uneasy about exploring their city, but still does it, which could be seen as undermining their point, but makes them more human and relatable.

The comic is short, and if the author wanted to do more pages or expand the comic somewhat, I'd say that they should probably go into more detail on her experiences in the places she's been. She talks about the scary industrial centers and the “existential romance of a coffee shop on Bedford,” but besides adjectives to describe these places, there's little to say why she likes these places or what happened there that makes her love these places. And what about the people? She makes a point about the ethnic enclaves of the city and says how we should see beyond the racial lines of the city, but says little about any people she met in the places she went. The emphasis of cityscapes and buildings over people is reflected in the art, which shows those places she loves completely abandoned. The comic is personal, but could definitely dig deeper.

The comic is black and white and appears to be done in ink on paper. Given that there are not many pages and panels in the comic, the author gets creative in using the visuals to reinforce the themes of the comic. In Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, he discusses the relationship between panels and storytelling. He mentions that majority of comics use “action to action,” “subject to subject,” and “scene to scene” but very few use “aspect to aspect” or “non sequitor.” And these are the two that I think this comic take advantage of. Looking at page 2, there appears to be little to no relation between panels. A cube, a letter and a check on a desk, a droplet splashing into a puddle, a rope barricade, a line of people following a detour, a tree, and abstract shapes linked with lines. But it's the writing that links the disparate elements together and grounds its abstract qualities, and it's the art that reinforces the writing in a way that pure text couldn't. The art also sets up some visual motifs to strengthen the theme of the story. Boxes frequently appear in the comic as well as clouds, both building up to the end in which a character breaks out of a box and breaks through the smoke to see the endless possibilities of literally thinking outside the box.

Despite this, there are still some things that could use improving. The early pages are too wide, resulting in horizontal and vertical scrolling. Though part of this is because she used a template that pushes the page off to the right of the comment section. The lettering in the early pages and the map legend here is difficult to understand. And despite everything I've said about the way she's been able to reinforce points in the writing in the art, when she does have to draw the places she's been to, she writing has to carry the art, because the “scariest looking warehouse gallery” looks anything but. If she played with the lighting or the angles in the scene, she could have made it look sinister on its face, similar to how she portrayed Brooklyn earlier in the comic.

Y O U R C O R N E R is short, but a combination of personal writing and art that reinforces the themes and language of the art show that there was clearly a lot of thought packed into a tight space. The writing could go into a little more detail and the art could still do more to reinforce the writing, but overall, not a bad effort and I wouldn't mind seeing future comics from the same author.


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