Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Awake Field is the 13th of Ron Regé Jr.’s Yeast Hoist yearly series of small comics he has produced since 1995. Each issue looks completely different, from self-published photocopied minis or a bigger edition spiral-bound hardcover, to a bottle of beer brewed by an artisan small brewery which had issue 15 of Yeast Hoist: Kept in Balance hanging around the neck of the earthenware bottle. The Awake Field is a square flexicover book, which contains short strips reflecting on small town life, made while Regé lived in a coastal community in southern Rhode Island, USA.
‘The Awake Field’, and ‘Rise Above The Graveyard’ are silent pieces, drifting over lush landscapes of trees, grass and open skies. The third strip, ‘The Hazard Rocks’ is adapted from a story by Becky Stark. It’s a series of single panel pages featuring a couple whose relationship is set out in rhyme: “You be the stranger, and I’ll be the mouse, and we’ll live together, inside of a house. And we’ll gather firewood, and we’ll meet for tea, and we’ll laugh for hours beside of the sea.”
Regé’s gently idiosyncratic cartoon lines wrap around his people and the landscapes he places them in with lettering that floats and frames the poetic, idealistic language he uses to describe what they think and feel – whether it is annoyingly twee or charming and captivating depends on your mood, but there’s no doubting the sincerity he pours into these strips. ‘Finding Privacy in The Hypnotist’s Ballroom’ is a dance in eight panels, followed by ‘Peace Comics’ which are more conventional funnies, and finally there is ‘An Introduction to the Mystical Union of Souls’, a meditation on creativity which also has an audio portion: a 3” CD which at the time of first publication was available from Buenaventura Press. If you want to hear the audio now, your best bet is the artist’s own web pages which he updates frequently.
This book is out of print. Copies aren’t too hard to find, but they are collectible so on the expensive side. None of these strips appear in the big Against Pain collection, but there is a related ‘Introduction to The Awake Field’ strip in that book featuring some of the same imagery.