Couch Tag

Couch Tag

by Jesse Reklaw

Veteran alternative cartoonist Jesse Reklaw (Applicant, Slow Wave) delivers this fantastic tragicomic graphic memoir, a collection of the earlier zines by the same name. It's a thoughtful, sometimes dark, and often hilarious view of experiences with childhood, family, death, mental illness, sex, and drug us. The entire book is told through cleverly inviting concepts like cat histories and card games in five looping and circular autobiographical parts about his family, youth, and early cartooning. In “Thirteen Cats” (featured in The Best American Comics), Reklaw discovers coping mechanisms that mimic his family pets; “Toys I Love” relates the author’s pre-pubescent brushes with deviant sexual activity, and the way innocence converges with real sexual trauma; “The Stacked Deck,” features hereditary influences towards criminal behavior, drug use and depression are explored via card games the author played with his family; and “Lessoned,” a family history of mental illness. Reklaw and his friend Brandon make their own decks of cards, commit vandalism, prank calls, record some music, toilet paper some houses, and obsess over a man who lives in their town. They mail him packages, they make comic books about him, and eventually create his assumed persona. Reklaw has a crazy dream where he and his sister buying a VCR from Al Gore. Its about growing up and growing apart and all of the kinds of memories that we can't recall from our own childhoods. This is some of the best work by Reklaw, a 25 year veteran cartoonist and top-shelf work by any standard. It's exciting to see this material re-issued in a wider-access format.