Edited by Julia Wertz
192 pages, black and white
Published by Three Rivers Press
I freely admit, I love reading the "missed connections" listings on Craigslist. I used to read them religiously in my local alternative papers, but these days it seems to be the internet where you hit the missed connections pay dirt. Clearly I’m not the only person who finds these snippets of other people’s lives fascinating, because with I Saw You…: Comics Inspired By Real-Life Missed Connections, Julia Wertz has assembled an all-start collection of indy and alternative cartoonists to illustrate various missed connections postings. Just like the missed connections themselves, the results are variable but overall entertaining.
If you’ve never read a missed connection before, they’re (usually) a short description of a situation, followed by the people involved. Sometimes it’s just a shared glance that felt meaningful to the person who posted it, other times it’s two people actually interacting and someone kicking themselves for not having asked for a phone number or e-mail address. And then, with all that information put out there, it’s cast into the wilderness hoping that the object of the missed connection ad will actually see it before the ad expires and goes away forever.
Most of my favorite contributions are the ones that aren’t just a strict interpretation of the original ad. Lucy Knisley inserts herself into her four-page contribution, as she looks at a flyer stapled to a telephone pole in Chicago and wonders about both the person who wrote it and how the guy the ad is looking for would react. It’s a smart piece, full of observations and queries, coupled with her slick, sharp art. It’s the perfect way to open I Saw You… and it shows a high level of inventiveness. Aaron Renier and Liz Prince also insert themselves into their stories, using their own experiences with looking for themselves in the missed connections to very different (but entertaining) results. Kazimir Strzepek takes the idea one step further, using the first two pages as a set-up for the actual ad showing up on the third page; it’s a complete story, and by leaving out the actual ad until the end, he’s able to bring a level of poignancy to the finished work. Ken Dahl takes a different approach, showing the writer of the advertisement as he actually composes his posting, sipping on wine and biting the eraser of his pencil as he thinks through the best closing line. The juxtaposition of the youthful ad with the older person writing it works well, and the finer details (like the author’s cat) made this one of my favorites in the book. And I would feel remiss in not mentioning Dan Mazur’s piece, which starts as a simple missed connection but then imagines a legion of ghosts (no, really) rising up from a graveyard to get the star-crossed lovers together.
That’s not to say that a straight retelling can’t be good, too. Keith Knight’s playful, silly illustrations involving a missed connection at an S&M party actually made me laugh at loud, for instance, and Corinne Mucha’s tight focus on her visuals make a missed connection in a bank interesting thanks to the forced perspective and the images she uses to go with each phrase. Sarah Oleksyk’s ode to a stripper is short, to the point, and immensely creepy, but all in a good way.
The only real issue—if one could even call it that—with I Saw You… is that a little really can go a long way. While the less inventive or sharp entries are still good, they do have a tendency to start to blur together. Reading just a few of these at a time is definitely the best approach; it keeps you from getting "missed connections fatigue" and helps increase the level of enjoyment. Overall, it’s definitely a good anthology, and if are a missed connections fan this is definitely required reading.
Purchase Link: Amazon.com