Life’s a Cakewalk Issues One and Two by Paulette Poullet
Cakewalk is a sketchbook diary mini-comic by Pittsburgh artist Paulette Poullet. I met her sitting next to Jim Rugg and Jasen Lex at SPX. She gave me two issues of Cakewalk (and a jam comic that had Captain America violating Iron Man against a brick wall, but we can't talk about that). Inside the front cover of Cakewalk issue one, she warns the reader that the quality of the art varies in the comic, and she’s right, it does. It’s a sketchbook experiment, so the art can be a little rough, but there are also several bright spots in each issue. Cakewalk works as an auto-biographical comic not only because of Poullet’s honesty, but also because her observations are easy to relate to for the reader. She’s outraged, cranky, angry, but also humorous, humble and challenging. In short, the reader can see some of their own nature in Cakewalk.
Each comic consists of one to two page stories or gags. Many of them are straightforward stacked panel pages, but some are much more imaginative. The nature of the sketchbook comic gives the artist some permission to be honest and it let’s them play around with different styles and perspective. There’s a lot of that here. If you don’t concentrate on some of the less polished pages, you’ll find a lot to enjoy.
Issue one covers February of 2005 and it begins with Poullet waiting for a bus. Three of the buses going the opposite way pass her by, and still her bus hasn’t arrived. When her bus finally arrives, she gets a good seat isolated from the other riders. Then a talkative guy gets on and sits right next to her annoying her for the rest of the trip. She mistakenly wears a red sweater on Valentine’s Day. She gets attacked by her cat, who is normally eleven pounds of pure fun. She’s annoyed by the people on her television. This is you. This is me. There’s nothing spectacular, but again, this is you. This is me. There’s a lot of us in this diary comic. So you keep reading. And as you read, you notice the neat little fonts that she makes up for her headings. There’s a page of nothing but heads of people she has been told she resembles – Kellie Osbourne, Peppermint Patty, the bumblebee girl from the Blind Melon video.
Issue two covers March 2005 and Poullet’s cat Monkey gets fixed! Good for her, even though Monkey laments his lost manhood. She’s got copies of Cakewalk number one back from the copy shop and realizes that it’s missing a page. This begins a downward spiral of whining and mopeyness that she questions until she realizes that a lot of cartoonists and musicians are whiny, mopey bastards. Right on the page is a checklist with Robert Crumb, Ivan Brunetti, Harvey Pekar, James Kochalka, Joe Matt, Jeffrey Brown. They each have a checkmark under the category “Whiny Bitch” with a crying smiley face beside it. Under “Super-Whiny Bitch,” you find The Smiths.
The inside back cover is an interview with Monkey the cat about art:
”I do what the critics call ‘Stink Art’ – but I don’t like to be pigeonholed. What I do is I eat a lot (I prefer ham and tuna) and then I poo and never cover it up in the box. The smell is terrible, it just permeates absolutely everything…”
For that one page alone, I love Cakewalk. It’s quirky, bitchy, and fun and there’s enough here to make me curious about what Poullet can do with a longer narrative. She has plans to do just that, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, you can get issues of the twenty-four page black and white Cakewalk from Poulette at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each issue contains a lot of story tucked under a bright blue or yellow cover for just $1.50 each.