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I Really Stepped In It This Time

The 1970s collage cover art strikes an uncharacteristic note, but don’t be deterred: the latest instalment of I Really Stepped In It This Time boasts yet more low-key glimpses into the life of Brian Dubin. The comic is comparable in some ways to the work of Jeffrey Brown, though simpler, less polished, and without any attempt to dramatise experiences or wrench them into a conventional narrative. Most panels feature Dubin in the bottom left corner, making his way through day-to-day situations. (On occasion, this arrangement becomes awkward to read, as when another character’s question is visually preceded by Dubin’s response.) The effect is cumulative. As if by accident, the reader begins to care about this almost preternaturally ordinary protagonist. This sideburn-sporting, glasses-wearing, spindly-legged museum employee becomes familiar enough to warrant investment. At one point, Dubin resolves to stop drinking (“I’ve been drinking a lot lately. It’s kinda cool, but kinda not cool.”). A later panel depicting him with a drink in each hand evokes a genuine blend of disappointment and sympathy. These moments are all the more affecting because Dubin has not contrived to create them, and does not mar them with narrative emphasis. At times, of course, this approach seems slightly too remote and the reader is left with too few emotional cues, but altogether Dubin renders a unique, often charming portrait of a particular kind of contemporary life. (Daniel Marrone)

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