I've got a guilty secret within my guilty not-so-secret of comic book love and that is Joey Sayers' hysterical mini-comic book; Passing Periods. This is one of those hand-stapled, photocopied, crappy little things, or at least that is all it appears to be on first glance, until you bother to read it and let the fun wash over you.
I'm all for comic book object fetish, adoring the book itself partly for its heft and quality, but this is not one of those. Just last week I was defending the honor of the CBR choice for the top book of 2010, partly on the merits of object quality but also for the quality of the craftsmanship and laboriously drawn content. However, there are times when the ideas of some comic books can shine through being scribbled in minutes, photocopied and hand-stapled together. Joey Sayers' Passing Periods is one of these.
A perennial favorite of mine (and everyone I expose to it), this book stands up to multiple readings, not because it is a complex, elaborate story. On the contrary, it is about as simple as a comic book can get in content. No, Passing Periods is just really bloody funny. Well-observed, the cartoons are shaved down to the bare essentials as the teen condition is roundly mocked in every incarnation.
Joey Sayers writes and draws a series of these deceptively simple little cartoons, filled with wry, offbeat humor. Passing Periods: Tackling Tough Topics for Today's Troubled Teen is jam packed with silliness as Sayers dismantles the cliche-ridden advice which is so often crammed down people's throats, turning the whole thing on its head and roundly mocking it. Silly, irreverent, irrelevant, pointless, childish, ridiculous, rough, messy... and brilliant.
Stumbling on to this at a little indie zine fest years ago, I bought a t-shirt with a bee on it from the author, nothing too remarkable there. Then a few months later I looked at the website and found this treasure trove of content. I bought another t-shirt which said "Never give up on your stupid, stupid dreams" and when Sayers sent the t-shirt, this mini-comic came too. I glanced at the cover and ignored it for a while, but one day, for some reason, I read it. Unsought-after and unexpectedly, this book had me in stitches. What a gift!
In these "5 minute comics", Sayers promises not to spend more than 5 minutes on each cartoon, which does not mean that there is any skimping on ideas or the observation, but that there is no need for overly complex drawings and devices to convey the ridiculous witticisms. There is no logic, no progression, and little connection beyond the basic theme presented by the title. In the case of this book, it is the pain of being a teenager and it is gloriously silly. I've always been a fan of laughing away the pain and Sayers does it in spades. Maybe it is because I'm British, and it is possible that I have a really juvenile sense of humor, but I find this series of very basic, one page comics incredibly funny.
I'll always leave this comic around for friends to find and read because I love hearing them laugh and point out their favorite bits. Luckily it is an incredibly basic object, so I don't mind if it gets handled by everyone. For me, this is the perfect use of the mini-comic book medium; something that can be passed along and shared with impunity. Unlike the t-shirts I was so keen to buy from Sayers which are now long since gone, the few little comic books that I have stuck around over the years, passing from person to person. This is a great example of what can be done with the most basic of mini-comics and proves that this is a medium that has enormous worth, not only because it makes people so happy, but also because it so accessible for creators and readers alike.