Review by Frank Plowright
Emi Lenox takes a different approach to this second collection of her online sketch journal. The cartooning that was the most impressive aspect of Emitown Volume 1 eventually generated paying work, which didn’t leave time to draw a page a day. However, Lenox kept notes, and in between assignments created and uploaded pages to her website in batches. Her introduction refers to the process enabling a greater sense of storytelling. She picks up in May 2010 and runs until the end of April 2011.
For all the opening claims of greater storytelling continuity, it’s a long time before it manifests as anything other than trivia, an example being Joe Keatinge, who writes the introduction, seen dithering about moving to Portland, then moving a month later. There are fewer burrito references and account tallies, but otherwise May, June and most of July offer little change from Volume 1’s chronicling of nights out, stargazing and odd dreams. Starting with entries from the end of July, though, the mundane is occasionally interrupted by Lenox revealing something of her true feelings, largely insecurities, which is a shame. They range from awkwardness when old friends reconnect to relationship uncertainties. However it’s still largely movies seen and parties attended, which is of no great interest to anyone other than Lenox, no matter how well drawn, and each time it seems there’s an opportunity to become invested in her life, it’s blown. An issue is boyfriend Tim having to look out of state for work, which leads to concerns about how much has been invested in a relationship only for him to move away. There’s a celebratory page about his finding employment, but in the entries after no mention as to whether that’s in Portland or elsewhere or what it means to the relationship. There are increasing arguments, but no consideration of whether this is her subconsciously pushing him away.
The drawing is even better than Volume 1, as Lenox becomes more imaginative with visual metaphors and exaggerations matching her assorted moods. Greater nuance is needed as we hit 2011’s entries because a single topic dominates the first two months, and this causes Lenox to open up about other aspects of her life. There’s a theory that people can generate greater happiness in their life by at the end of each day actually writing down three things, big or small, that have made them happy during that day. Perhaps that’s what all the previous pages have been.
An occasional blip manifests beforehand, but it’s really only the final hundred pages that resonate as Lenox opens her heart. Unfortunately, none of what’s related is good news, and it generates a sympathy. Much is still hanging as of May 2011, and there have been no further collections, but readers captivated can pick up subsequent strips on Lenox’s blog.