I've never really been a "comics" person, in the sense that I've never really regularly read graphic novels or superhero comics, but I have a deep love for the comic strip form -- Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Jim's Journal remain very important to me -- and Kochalka's strip has been another wonderful illustration of how powerful the 4-panel strip can be.
I read Alan Doane's reflection about how he isn't that into Kochalka's work any more and wondered why I didn't agree. In a sense, I do agree; I thought I'd never been that big a fan of Kochalka's work outside his diary strip. But I thought about it a little bit more and realized that I do like most other things he's done. And then I asked myself why, since I didn't expect that to be true, and came to this strange and slightly embarrassing conclusion:
I like Kochalka's work because I love him, as a person.
I feel very weird about writing those words. But I can't think of any other way to describe it, and I suppose this is a result of his groundbreaking approach to his strip. Of course, anybody keeps most of their personal life to themselves, even when they write autobiographically. (I certainly don't feel like I disclosed everything about myself in my memoir-ish book.) But it seems that because I've read, for over a decade, Kochalka's record of himself, his relationship with his wife and children, his vocation, and other ultimately important mundanities of life, I feel I know the guy. I care about him and his family. If my memory serves me correctly, I think I've even prayed for them before.
I feel weird about all that, and I'm sure he does too, since I'm surely not the only reader who's experienced this. But it also feels sort of sublime and nice to know that a comic strip can do that.
Thanks for a great strip, James.
PS: The title comes from this comic.