James Kochalka's American Elf daily comic
August 29, 2007 8:39 PM   Subscribe

American Elf is a daily diary comic by James Kochalka. The latest strip is always free but the archives are subscription only. He also a musician, his most famous song being Hockey Monkey, and he has number of songs up for free on his site. [via Eddie Campbell who says: "Beginning in 1998 Kochalka took the form of daily strip and imbued it with a life that has been missing from it for a long time. Since then he has made sure his daily round is not finished until a strip is done. Another thing I like about it is the way he carefully avoids any taint of 'continuity'. There is no story here, just the eternal incidentalness of life as it is lived."]
posted by Kattullus (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Shit, that model sucks for folks coming to the site fresh. It also feels really manipulative, like "you have to come every day or else pay me!" Eh.

I do love me some Kochalka, though. I didn't realize he was still doing this; I adored the first two volumes of his Sketchbook diaries when they came out in book form, then lost track as I wandered away from the comics shop. It's really sweet, closely observed stuff. Too bad he's giving the new stuff away by such a strange method.
posted by mediareport at 8:47 PM on August 29, 2007

I am only familiar with Monkey vs. Robot.
posted by polyhedron at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2007

I thought his most famous song was Monkey vs. Robot.
posted by vronsky at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2007

jinx you owe me a coke.
posted by vronsky at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2007

It's a good thing they took my credit cards away, else I'd have been sucked in by his brilliant marketing scheme.
posted by hototogisu at 9:05 PM on August 29, 2007

How completely random that the monkey from Monkey vs. Robot is played by Andy Samberg.
posted by Kattullus at 9:06 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yay Vermonter! I read a lot of these in the local paper but I should PayPal him some money just for being awesome. I had NO IDEA he was the genius behind Hockey Monkey. Thanks!
posted by jessamyn at 9:25 PM on August 29, 2007

Manipulative, wha?

It's not an uncommon business method among websites. With webcomics, Girlmatic did it, Modern Tales did it. Media Bistro, Dictionary.com, thousands of others give you more if you pay them. I mean, hell, it's basically a 'premium' membership.

Just because it's art on the web doesn't mean it has to be free.
posted by OrangeDrink at 9:43 PM on August 29, 2007

That specific free-today gambit is a trademark of the Modern Tales webcomic collective, of which Girlmatic is a spinoff, and which counts James Kolchaka as an associate member. (wikipedia) I agree with OrangeDrink, though - if you wanna try selling your work instead of giving it away and making it up in clever t-shirts, that's your perogative.

(Digger is the only other strip of the pack I've considered subscribing for.)
posted by ormondsacker at 9:58 PM on August 29, 2007

Just because it's art on the web doesn't mean it has to be free.

Um, he's giving the comics away for free *already.* He's just forcing you to visit daily to get the free version - that's what feels slightly manipulative to me. Anyway, I've bought his books before, OrangeDrink, and now that I know there are a couple more volumes, will probably buy those, too, so it's not a question of wanting something for nothing. I've just never liked the "here it is just for today!" model wherever I've encountered it.

But I'd rather talk about his comics. They're like a more deep, honest and open-hearted version of Scott Dikker's Jim's Journal strips, using a deceptively simple surface to present these little moments that accumulate into a great sideways view of the emotional flow of ordinary life. I think you need to absorb them in batches to work your way in, which may be why I find it disappointing to only be able to see one at a time.

*shrug* I'll buy the other collections for Xmess or something.
posted by mediareport at 10:07 PM on August 29, 2007

Another thing I like about it is the way he carefully avoids any taint of 'continuity'.

The Chronic Perineum is misunderstood.
posted by stavrogin at 10:25 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's true. It's definitely more interesting to read through American Elf in one sitting.

And hey, who didn't like Super Fuckers? eh?
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:38 PM on August 29, 2007

'American' and 'elf' are two words that should never go together. Coudn't he have called it 'pepsi sprite' or something?
posted by Sparx at 10:57 PM on August 29, 2007

It was a James Kochalka framed print that partially convinced me to pounce ont he apartment I'm in now. I visited the place via a criagslist ad, and when I was there I found two of the nerdiest guys I could imagine. Comics and videogames everywhere, framed poster of Lazy Sunday Afternoon in the livingroom, but the icing was the tiny American Elf conic framed that was called "Hulk's Diary." Lovely.
posted by piratebowling at 12:03 AM on August 30, 2007

I dunno. All today's comic did was convince me was that $1.95 a month might be better spent on starving kids in Africa. Or spend $0.70 more and buy Private Eye ($2.60 approx) once a month. Which has far morefunny stuff per dollar.
posted by rhymer at 1:53 AM on August 30, 2007

posted by doctorschlock at 7:49 AM on August 30, 2007

Monkey Vs. Robot is fantastic!

As is the autobiographical graphic novel where he builds a robot and gets bubbles on his hands!

Was that taken from this?
posted by radgardener at 7:50 AM on August 30, 2007

'Hockey Monkey' is also the song that plays over the credits for the TV show The Loop.

Monkey song.

Robot song.
posted by quin at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2007

The Zambonis (the band performing the song) are casual buds of mine. Great guys.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on August 30, 2007

Tell them to tell him to keep the strips up for a week or two before hiding them in the paid archive, wouldja?
posted by mediareport at 8:44 PM on August 30, 2007

I love James Kochalka. Drawing style, writing style, subject matter...

Eddie Campbell, on the other hand, pisses me off with his unreadable, "impressionistic" scrawl.
posted by limeonaire at 10:13 AM on September 2, 2007

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