By Emi Lenox
400 pages, two-color
Published by Image Comics
Jumping into print with a 400-page reprint of your online diary comic is a rather brave proposition. A year’s worth of comics from Emi Lenox, EmiTown is a fun comic, but one that I think ultimately shines in part because you watch her progress over the course of those twelve months. When EmiTown opens, you end up with thin lines and a slightly scattered overall entry. It felt to me like it was a piece of paper that Lenox was trying to fill up, and does so with random moments and scenes shoved in to avoid a large void of white space. Her art style at this point feels slightly nebulous, too, with thin lines and an almost flat look to her pages.
I mention all of this because of the huge jump that the book takes the further in you read. Working every day on her diary comic meant that she quickly grew adept in telling vignettes from her life, and what started as an unmemorable comic rapidly became a lot of fun. Even when a page isn’t about a single event, Lenox still manages to make the update feel like one moment flowed into the next. Part of that may have to do with stronger layouts, but I think she also grew more adept as a writer. Her art is much stronger, too; there’s a confident and weightier line being used in her art, and she’s developed a stronger style that lifts the individual moments into something that moves easily from one moment to the next. She’s gotten great with both motion and also in guiding the reader’s eye; by the time we get an entry about dancing along to a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode, she’s managed to draw a page that has no panel borders and still guides the reader easily from one moment to the next. EmiTown is a chance to watch the birth of a talented comic book creator unfold over the course of one year. Lenox is definitely a creator to watch out for.