Don’t Cry Wolfman Chicago
Nate Beaty, 120 pgs, self-published, available from topshelfcomix.com, $9.99.
In a world where the late Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) is no longer producing comics, Nate Beaty is his more-than-adequate heir apparent.
In the same way Pekar’s comics chronicled his own anxieties regarding the minutiae of everyday life, Beaty does the same. In Beaty’s case, however, there’s a clear exaggeration of the events that unfold in his life, and they always lead to a traditional comic strip gag.
Highly self-deprecating, this collection chronicles the life of a hipster who isn’t quite as cool as he wants to be and is constantly tripped up by his own anxieties. If Larry David was a beatnik, you might get Wolfman Chicago. It’s worth picking up for that combo alone — Beaty’s uncanny resemblance to Broken Pencil assistant fiction editor Adam Pasquella not withstanding. Whether it’s frustration over technology, anxiety over getting older or the daily struggle of trying to make ends meet, there’s a lot to relate to here and it’s all done in a very sketchy, rough DIY drawing style that’s a little punk rock and a little more don’t-give-a-fuck than most autobiographical strips can offer.
Alas, even Harvey Pekar’s stick figures were transformed into great art by some of the best underground cartoonists, like Robert Crumb and Dean Haspiel, and this collection doesn’t have that same level of polish. But that’s what makes it good. Beaty takes the “anyone can do a comic” idea even further than Pekar did. These aren’t drawings so much as doodles and they prove all that’s needed is a pen and a cocktail napkin. There’s freedom in that and it comes across here. (Aaron Broverman)