There exists an adage among authors: "Write what you know." It's hackneyed and trope-ish, but it's actually effective for all its cliche. Erika Lipkis does precisely that in her zine, Diet Starts Monday. It's a review of mostly one-page strips that highlight moments from her relationship, pulling back the layers that we usually see when engaging others and filling the work with the private moments that are special between them. It's an intimate look into a slice of life that is only weird to us because it's not our farts on display, not our foibles and pillowtalk gracing the pages, and because of that fact that it's a wonderful lesson in context.
First off, this is most certainly a work for adults, for the mentions of unmentionables begins earnestly from the first page. This is an interesting work for me, because a lot of the stories, though seemingly innocent to the people within it, can be interpreted many different ways with the reader's context. For example, the story "The Ancient One" showing how they met is strikingly similar to a relationship a friend of mine was in long ago. The presentation is cute and sweet, but my knowledge of the toxicity of my friend's experience certainly colored my reaction to the work. That's kind of the knife edge that you run when opening yourself so completely on the page. This is just an example of how open Lipkis is in this book which makes the read incredibly worthwhile. This is a bit like a sitcom without the audience needing to cue us in, but with interactions that are more real in the beautiful/disgusting minutia of the daily existence we share with someone else - the truths that aren't built for drama, but pulled fully away from the wash of social media editing and curation.
Two pages make the zine sing for me: "Flower of Life" which hides its wonderful and thoughtful message in such a compact package that it nearly whistled by me on the first read; and her page on Facebook status which solidifies the
tone of the entire work. A few awkward moments arise from a blatant plug and a rape joke that could have used a touch more context to work well don't mar the overall experience which carries its heart in its humor and is a wonderful treat for the inner romantic who dreams of farting on the couch in perfect harmony with their special other.
If for nothing else, check it out for Mr. Brown's benefit.
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