Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Product of the Eighties: Confessions from the Reagan Era by Dana Jones

So, Product of the Eighties, I suppose you could look at this mini-comic and say, “That’s not a comic. There’s no visible art or skill here.” You could, but you would be wrong. Product of the Eighties is comprised of page after page of four yearbook pictures, sometimes the same picture, but just as often different ones, beside each other on each page. A black bar hides the eyes and the identity of the person, but you get enough of a sense of the person behind the image to make some guesses as to what kind of a person they may have represented in junior high. For instance, the guy with the Ratt T-shirt – we all knew him.

A caption rests under each picture, and it’s here that Dana has made a comic. The words and the pictures do work together. No, the pictures aren’t drawn, they’re photocopied from a yearbook, but Dana has taken great care in matching the captions with the pictures. Each page stands alone, but together they give an overall picture of your own experience in middle school. Dana and I are both products of the eighties, so there were times when I could have sworn that he was using pictures from my own yearbooks of the time period. The hairstyles, the smiles, the clothes, they all looked so familiar. It’s uncanny.

The real beauty in this mini-comic is that you could hand it to almost anyone and get a laugh. We’ve all been there. And for a comic, it’s very accessible to non-comics readers. You won’t find any word balloons or thought bubbles in this book, just well-timed captions. For example one page has four different seventh graders next to each other with the following captions underneath:

First seventh grader: "My fist Cure album was Seventeen Seconds."

Second seventh grader: “My first Cure album was Staring at the Sea.”

Third seventh grader: “My first Cure album was Disintegration.”

Fourth seventh grader: “What’s the Cure?”

Product of the Eighties: Confessions from the Reagan Era is a whopping seventy-six pages for four bucks. You can contact Dana @ replayvideo@cox.net for your copy. I suggest you do so.

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