Snakepit: My Life in a Jugular Vein

Snakepit: My Life in a Jugular Vein

by Ben Snakepit

In a sense, despite turning the big 3-0, Ben Snakepit captures the same spirit in the comics he draws to summarise each and every day of nearly the last decade of his life. In his second collection condensing the last three years we see our hero move to and from Canada, tour the world with J Church, hang out with the Sainte Catherines, meet Mike Watt, get caught in the throes of whirlwind romances and we're there to watch helplessly as he gets his heart broken. There's also more pants-shitting, Adderall tripping and days of doing absolutely nothing to keep the old school fans happy. Also keeping with tradition there's a song allocated to each day and this collection comes with a mix cd of some of those songs for the maximum Snakepit life experience. Voted Best Minicomic - Wizard March 2006! Voted Best local comic – Austin Statesman 2006! 

 
 

Comments

Ink 19 7/29/2010

"For five years now, Ben Snakepit has chronicled each day of his life in a three-panel comic strip. A typical day involves working, watching movies and getting drunk or stoned with friends. However, there are also heartbreaks, parties, travels across the globe and band practices. Watching the stories unfold in real time makes them addictive; Ben's efforts at self-improvement after years of drinking and eating like Henry VIII at 3 in the morning will seem familiar to those of us of a certain age, and his relationship problems are heartbreaking. Overall the book is extremely compelling, adding up to a fairly complete picture of a man obsessed with music and happy with simple things in life like friendship, bike rides and the occasional show or zombie movie."

Beaucoup Kevin 11/1/2009

"This is probably the only "And then I..." autobiocomic that I find worth a damn ..."

Adam Coozer, ReadJunk 7/3/2009

... This book does pass the time nicely on a lengthy commute.

Ray Suburbia 7/31/2007

I'm not sure how Ben manages to distill the everyday tedious insanity that is punk rock into three panels, but he does. What makes this better than the average personal zine, or mini comic, is that in the honesty comes a sense of truth. This isn't heart pouring for the sake of attention, or release, or absolution. This is documentation. And when you get the chance to step back and observe the ridiculousness that is life, you're a little better for it. It also helps that Ben is a rad dude who doesn't get mad at you for sleeping in his bathtub.

Cristy Road

Ben Snakepit draws stories about love, punk, Texas, forties, infatuation, dragons, diarrhea, and more with a thoughtful truthfulness that many other authors may be unable to handle. Alongside entertaining and enlightening, Ben is honest about weakness, vulnerability, girls, bands and dirty habits- unlike many suave authors who disguise imperfection with big words. Ben keeps it real and shows no means of pretension. Besides that, I hate him, because I bought him a pot brownie once and it didn’t even make him high.

Jenny Sommerville, Vice Magazine

Every day Ben would come back from band practice or getting drunk or working at the record store and do a three-panel autobio strip about his day. At first they seem sloppily drawn and irrelevant but after about 400 strips you see a greater truth, an overall pattern. You see how bored we get, how wasted we get, and how we always break up with people for no reason. Ben’s shitty comics have created a book that’s impossible to put down, with lessons usually reserved for more pretentious art.

Benjamin Reed, Austinist

For the better part of the last decade, Ben White has written an autobiographical three-panel daily comic, each with the date and a theme song recorded above. Originally, they were DIY incarnate—monthly bundles of 8½x11 sheets folded in half and hand-stapled with a red cover, plus a couple of one-shots.
Stuff like Ben’s comic is often erroneously labeled Outsider Art. Unlike Daniel Johnston, if Ben’s work ever gets thumb-tacked to the walls of The Whitney, SFMOMA, or Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (which, if Johnston is any indicator, it will, someday), Snakepit will instead be classified as Naïve. Although no longer as true, Outsiders have typically been patients in sanitariums, the ‘touched’, and other drooling sociopaths who make badass art despite being basically ignorant of what the art world considers to be bad, or for that matter, ass. Naïve is on par and similarly primitive, yet the self-taught artist knows what’s considered mainstream, and may even belong—roughly speaking—to a school. Ben’s ‘schools’ include Zine, Punk Rock, and DIY—not to mention the inimitable pre-Structural artistic movement known as ‘Getting Xerox hookups from friends,’ and, of course, the largely Texan post-realistic phenomenon known as ‘Lone Star & Weed.’ True to this mold, Ben’s only art school experience compelled him to stop drawing. For years.
The word ‘naïve’, stripped of its pejorative connotation, is a good description of Snakepit for other reasons. While the comic has gotten a smidge flashier over the past few years, it’s hasn’t developed in any manner that would suggest Ben is trying to improve. On the contrary, the sheer discipline of his daily drawing is only excelled by his ethic to not let his art evolve—to keep it crude/shitty/primitive, whatever. Years ago, another Austin artist tried to amicably imitate Ben’s shtick, drawing his own daily yawner. It was an attempt that failed on several levels, most obviously by the crisp, perspective-oriented, Marvel-like images in each panel. That comic had a sharp look but a distinct lack of sincerity. Sincerity, after all, is what keeps Ben buffered from total narcissism.
The drawing style is bound to the comic’s unflinching honesty. (Incidentally, the sound of Ben shitting his pants while riding his bike home from Taco Cabana is “splort.”) Occasionally, Ben’s only about three steps on the good and legal side of the division between ‘Charming Romantic’ and ‘Budding Stalker’. But despite his many trials, heartbreaks and disappointments, he seems to exist in a semi-real zen state of measured happiness. Talking on the phone with new a girl, cleaning his room, and going vegan all day become hefty accomplishments. Plus, when you read a three-year anthology over four or five sittings, you get the wide view of a life, and the impression that Ben's trials never seem to last for too long.
The secret to this life is unhidden. It's found of the pages themselves, chronicling years and years of getting drunk, hanging out with friends, and meeting girls who—no matter how poorly drawn—always look cute as little buttons. In short, if there’s any code at all to being Ben Snakepit, it seems to be: have fun, love your mom, don’t cling to disappointment, and, if you find something you really like, do it every day.

Lisa Gieskes, ECPI Coll. of Technology, Columbia, SC

An artist and a musician, Snakepit produces work that is both humorous and painfully revealing: "All stories are true, no names have been changed. Snakepit was, is, and always shall be intended to be read while on the toilet." His life, though it may be unconventional to many, offers insight into the human condition. He struggles to juggle his loves (girlfriends, work, drugs, alcohol, shows, libraries) with daily necessities (work,
laundry, health coverage, keeping off weight).

Feminist Review

Is it wrong to call a punk underground comic strip "charming?" My Life in a Jugular Vein, the new collection of three years worth of Snakepit Comics could also be described as exuberant, funny, and profane, but overall I was charmed by the simple, clever artistic style and the honesty of one mad-drinking, band-forming, crazy-cursing guy sharing his life.

A hand-drawn diary of its author, each strip covers one day in the life of Ben Snakepit. And just like real life, some days are action-packed, while some are more "watching TV with friends and drinking beer." This makes for occasional slow points between story arcs (which usually take the form of romances or concert tours), but I think that this book works best if you don't try to charge through it all at once. If you're willing to soak up the flavor of Ben's life, you'll be treated to a unique take on both the cosmic and the mundane.

My Life in a Jugular Vein is the second collection of strips, and, although the book starts in media res, it's easy enough to pick up on the cast of characters and locales: a cavalcade of musicians, slackers, punk nightclubs (Emo's!), parties, and living rooms where you could crash on the floor. The book is best when it's experimental: the distorted drawings of other guests at drunken parties, and the weird squiggle-filled portraits of joy at riding a bike or smoking from a bong. It's also chock-full of cultural and geographical references, from punk clubs all over the U.S. to a hysterical rendering of the opening scene of Lost in Translation. Lots of the book has a strong Austin, TX flavor, but Ben travels enough that the cast of characters and locales vary to keep it interesting.

Another point: the heading of each day's strip is the title and artist of Ben's "Daily Listening," so if you enjoy the vibe of the strip, you can fill your iPod with songs to accompanying it, ranging from the classic to the kooky. One paperback edition also comes with a CD of 18 songs featured in the strips. If you love punk, and you love zines, or you're curious about the world of underground comics, My Life in a Jugular Vein would be an excellent place to start reading.

Denis Sheehan, Askew Reviews

Never before in my life have I read 288 pages faster than this book. The reader cannot help but become involved in Ben’s world through his words and drawings. True, his cartoons are not the most sophisticated drawings in the world, but damn they will make you laugh out loud.

Austin Chronicle

Also paving his path in the autobiographical comic genre is local punk rocker/comic artist/ramblin' man Ben Snakepit who documents every day of his life -- warts and all -- in his comic book, Snakepit. While many of his three-panel-per-day strips are of the typical went to work, got drunk and/or stoned, and passed out variety, the majority chronicles life on the road with his bands (including J Church), his many video- and record-store jobs, the anxieties and thrills associated with the life of a modern-day punk rock vagabond, and his escapades with the ladies (falling in and out of love with a Suicide Girl, getting engaged and then breaking up with a girl from Canada he met online, etc.). My Life in a Jugular Vein spans Ben's life from 2004 to 2007 and features his crude yet capable scribble-style, hastily rendered artwork. Comparisons to the artistry of Dave Cooper, Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware are a long way off, but like the raw, DIY music he loves and champions in his comics, the art conveys his message effectively.

401 Media

What I like about Snakepit is the voyeuristic look that you get looking into someone elses life, the problem of course is while Ben is a pretty interesting guy, playing in bands like J Church and others and an endless string of girlfriends and tours, he has boring days just like everyone else and you have to forge through those to get back to the good stuff.

Ink 19

Daily life can be pretty dull. Think about what you accomplished today. You got dressed, ate something and are most likely surfing the web on company time. While most people's daily lives might not be especially exciting, these moments added up can be oddly fascinating and revealing.

Razorcake

Ben Snakepit has a new book out, My Life in a Jugular Vein. It’s three more years of daily DIY punk life, three comic panels for every day of the year. It comes with a CD, too. We didn’t put this book out, (we put out the first) I know Ben really well, and we decided just to talk instead of writing a review that’d make us both feel real uncomfortable and weird.

Askew Reviews

Never before in my life have I read 288 pages faster than this book. The reader cannot help but become involved in Ben’s world through his words and drawings.

The Stranger

There’s something refreshing about a guy who’s willing to put every part of his life onto the page, whether the stories are mundane or hilarious.