Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Webcomic Review: The Littlest Elle

Initially I was going to hold off on changing how I did webcomic reviews until the new year but what the heck, I'll talk about it more in my end of year round-up post in about a month but I've decided that I'm going to start doing reviews of completed webcomics I follow as if they were a comic or manga series (even if I reviewed them while they were still on-going since I've done that for manga as well). Of course, this series actually ended months back and I was waffling on whether or not to start doing these reviews now but I have a bit of a lull in my schedule and this artist does have a few other active projects so I'd like to highlight one that she's done to help get people interested in the ones she's still working on (I'm also impressed at anyone who manages to work on three separate webcomics at once, no matter what the update schedule is!)

The Littlest Elle by Elle Skinner

An auto-bio webcomic on artist Elle Skinner, seven years of art, work, and cats.

I found Skinner's work first through the webcomic Erstwhile (a collaborative adaption of fairy tales which I found because the lady who did Red String was heading up the project) and then I started to read her other major comic, Missing Monday, but for some reason when I tried TLE the first time I didn't like it, it just didn't click with me. If I'm remembering right if finally clicked with me during one week of summer when I was home from college and every interaction I had with my mom and step-dad seemed to be going down the toilet (I think I also marathoned Bobwhite in that week). That time something just clicked with me, seeing another person's life go up and down was both comforting and the highlights were enough to distract me from endlessly going over and over in my head how I had made another argument go worse. I haven't re-read it since I started the comic since it's well over 800 strips but I suspect even more of the comic would ring true now, I'm tempted to get the "crushed by retail" ebook collection she has since I started thinking about those strips the other day and what I remember rings pretty true with my current job! I even had a chance to meet Skinner at SPX 2013 and it was funny to do so after reading her strip about having to work at being an extrovert at cons and how tiring it was, I had started applying that to my own life and found it really useful and after meeting her I never would have guessed how much of that didn't come naturally to her and had to be learned (which made me think about all kinds of things about social interaction in general and how we seem to have this pervasive myth about how some people are just "good" at social situations when really everyone has to learn at least some of it, which was quite a bit more than I ever expected to get out the comic!).

 And hopefully the length of this comic won't put anyone off, it's a very easy read and what I did was I would read chunks of 20 or 50 strips a day and feel both satisfied and eager to continue with more the next day. I think the art style also helped with that, it's very simple so I felt that with just a quick look I could take in everything about a panel and then move on instead of feeling like I just needed to absorb a highly detailed panel and feel drained after a chapter or two. Not that that's a bad thing and Skinner certainly can and does more detailed comic work, her work on "The Singing, Springing Lark" (part of Erstwhile) is very lovely to look at, that way she's able to cleanly use watercolors to mix colors and yet not use so much color that it instead looks like acrylic or oil is really nice.

So, I highly recommend this comic if you like more slice-of-life/auto-bio comics, while I usually don't like autobio comics that I tend to find at the library I like how their webcomic counterparts often focus more on the little joys of life and this one does that well. And, if for some reason you need even more comics to read, Today Nothing Happened is another of my favorites from that genre (and ALSO has some retail/food work experience which rings more and more true every day it seems).