As You Were #4: Living Situations
by Mitch Clem Author and Avi Ehrlich Author
This punk-comix anthology has set a particularly high bar, illustrating experiences in a way that anyone who has lived in a punkhouse can relate to, empathize with, and experience a little nostalgia. The beauty and strength of this anthology is the variety and almost dreamlike takes from some artists. Ben Passmore delivers common experiences of living in a punkhouse as a sort of Greek myth. We also get to hear from the neglected and disgusting dish sponge and its view of its caretakers. Brad Dwyer compares his current adult living situation with his wife and children to his days of living in the grossest punkhouse experiences and how both can appear normal for different reasons. Evan Wolff recalls a time when he was the subject of at TV show about busting house parties and he is fined for having a show in his living room. For some artists there's a certain attachment to a stage of development and maturity and even placation that begins to appear in these stories. There are more pieces like those of Steve Thueson and his first sexual encounter, Ben Snakepit illustrating himself as the roommate from hell, and Nomi Kane finding herself living with a misogynist hippie who doesn't want to see a box of tampons. Jim Kettner, who delivers the standout story in this volume and gives me the most nostalgia for my past in a one-bedroom with twelve roommates, seems to fixate on his obsessions from when he was 16 even though he's now 37. What's more impressive however, is that punkhouses seem to deliver all of the community that he wants and more. He is a strong writer who effectively captures the tone of the personalities around him. He bands together with other sober punks with ideological passions and together they celebrated the most epic sleepover parties. What strikes me most reading this a decade after my last group-living situation is the exclusivity of these social groups. They are virtually impenetrable for those outside of them but those on the inside, they feel almost organic and natural. The former residents even get tattoos together as a keepsake of their time living under one roof. I mean, there's a certain fraternal quality about that but it's also incredibly charming and an illustration of the kind of bonds that exist in punkhouses that cannot be broken. And this collection puts the horns next to the haloes without an idealistic sheen or bitter tone. It's strikingly honest and almost objective in its artistic analysis.
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