Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Favorite Reads:Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury by Jim

My Favorite Reads
Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. April is National Humor month, so this week I have chosen a cartoon collection that was a favorite of mine when I was a young adult.

The Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury: The Definitive Collection of Every Published Cartoon by Jim (aka Scott Dikkers) which contains:
  • I Went to College and It Was Okay
  • I Got a Job and It Wasn't That Bad
  • I Made Some Brownies and They Were Pretty Good
  • I Got Married If You Can Believe That
  • I Feel Like a Grown-up Now
Summary (from Goodreads.com):
Five books after the popular comic strip Jim's Journal was first bound, we now present The Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury-and it's okay. Actually, this collection is much more than okay. Comprehensive, featuring Jim's life as it progressed (or not) through his first five books, this special edition contains previously unpublished material including Jim in living color. No longer in syndication, the complete works of Jim's Journal will be a definitive must-have collection. College students rave about Jim's Journal, making it one of the most popular Generation X-oriented strips in history. Readers have grown along with Jim, as he moved from copy-store to grocery-store clerk, feigned interest in stamp collecting, faced frequent harassment from phone companies wanting him to switch his long distance service, and finally got married. From the beginning, Jim's message has been "Aren't comics dumb-even this one?" Yet even though it pokes fun at itself, the strip extols the virtues of a slacker lifestyle: Jim has a menial job, a cat, and a few friends. He doesn't do much. In fact, Jim's Journal was slacker before slacker was cool. Postmodern and minimalist, the quirky Jim's Journal has been featured in the book collections I Went to College and it was okay; I Got a Job and it wasn't that bad; I Made Some Brownies and they were pretty good; I Got Married if you can believe that; and I Feel Like a Grown-up Now. In this jam-packed Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury, readers will find the same understated and unpredictable style.

Why I chose this book:
To be perfectly honest, I don't actually own this collection, I own the five individual books, but I didn't want to do five posts (plus, that would be a lot about a small, random series of cartoon books no one but me seems to have ever heard of.)

The first book was a gift to me from a co-worker at my first ever "real" job (as a temp receptionist at First Union) one summer in college. It's funny, I barely knew that woman but these cartoons are perfect for me. The best way to describe them is deadpan. There's a pretty small cast of characters: Jim, his roommate Tony, his co-workers at McDonald's: Ruth and Mark. Later he gets a cat named Mr. Peterson, and another roommate named Steve.

It was so amazingly accurate. It's all about the normal, everyday life of an Everyman. The minutiae and details without much (if any) drama or pizazz. For instance:

Panel 1: I sit behind someone in philosophy class who pretend to be taking notes
Panel 2: But she's actually writing a letter to her friend... I can see it.
Panel 3: Once she even raised her hand and asked a question.
Panel 4: But then she went right back to writing her letter.

I used to do that! All the time!

One of the shocking thing about growing up is discovering how boring and mundane adult life is. As a teen you think it's going to be all cocktail parties and dating and exotic vacations, not grocery shopping, bill paying, and watching Good Morning America. You also think that if you go to college, you'll get some high-flying important and challenging job making tons of money. But reality is more like Jim's life: an hourly job in a copy shop. (My first job out of college was bartending.)

I do get that this humor isn't for everyone. It's occasionally contemplative, always quiet, a little snarky, and a lot slacker. But in the '90's, Jim's Journals really spoke to me. I think they'd still be prefect for a college kid, but they're all out of print. I suppose, just like Jim, all of Generation X is growing up.


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This sounds like a fun collection. Sometimes cartoons have a way of zeroing in on the real stuff.

Here's mine:


Alyce said...

That does look a lot like real life. If they had one about sleeping through astronomy that would fit my college experience. :)

Cath said...

What a great idea for a meme! And this book looks just adorable.