Self-referential narratives that, almost paradoxically, exist to document their own construction are perhaps not always universally appreciated. That cyclical self-commentary is a difficult trick to pull off, after all, without descending into the depths of either the trite or the pointless. But in Dear Diary Angela Pan avoids falling into either trap by detailing the genesis and development of the very same project the reader is holding in their hands with such an affable poise that they are immediately drawn into these engaging insights into her creative process.
Pan’s ruminations in Dear Diary begin with a day of quiet introspection wandering around local stores when she has a moment of artistic epiphany (memorably caught in a full-page image that also doubles as the comic’s cover) that will result in the story we are reading.
From there the audience follows her exploits over the next few months as she shifts through feelings of inspiration, frustration, procrastination and success on her way to creating her first comics offering.
Part slice-of-life, part autobio and part essay on creativity and the realisation of our dreams, Dear Diary ends with an upbeat beginning and the promise of a journey yet to come.
This gentle piece of storytelling is brought to vibrant life through Pan’s gorgeous use of crayoned colour that accentuates mood and character development. Pan deftly uses a sense of changing perspective to emphasise her on-page incarnation’s moments of determination, motivation and even desperation. Dear Diary is backed up with a selection of her illustrative work that again displays how adept she is in using colour to connect with her readership.
Undoubtedly the more jaded may find the very concept of the book to have a certain redundancy to it in both premise and concept. They would be wrong. There’s no denying the spirit and amiability on show in these pages and, on the basis of this “short comic about how I came to draw this comic”, I’ll certainly be looking out for Angela Pan’s work in future. You should too at ELCAF this coming weekend.
Angela Pan will be at Table 6 at ELCAF on Friday and Saturday.
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Angela Pan will also be a guest at the Gosh! Comics and Broken Frontier Drink and Draw on Tuesday June 20th for a post-ELCAF evening of comics socialising. Full details here.