Big Oldie: A Collection of Comic Zines: By Rick V., 89 pgs. By Sean Arenas

The digital age of autobiographical comics is here in a big, bad way. Many artists find their work trending on Tumblr and Instagram, a vast desert of fleeting digital content. Yet, most artists would agree that printed zines and bound collections are a preferable interaction between creator and reader as it develops a tactile relationship, which connects with our personal history and not simply our browser’s.

As such, I read most of Rick V.’s collection, Big Oldie, before class and in bed and between shifts at work. By holding Rick’s zine in my hands, it opened a gateway into his everyday life filtered through his nerdy predilections and goofy sense of humor. As Rick admits, the early strips are roughly drawn, yet they are chock-full of earnestness and insightful observations. But he develops as an artist throughout the collection. In fact, Rick acknowledges that years of practice have made his lines more confident, although he has not lost any of his simplistic charm. Even if you lack artistic expertise, personal expression is a muscle that anyone can flex. Rick has exercised his muscles by documenting his local punk scene and his trials and tribulations in maintaining DIY space 1919 Hemphill.

Ultimately, photocopied zines are as pertinent now as ever. They counteract slowly dissociating human interactions, which are partially a result of digital communication. Look, I’m not a Luddite, but why simply see someone’s inner self expressed when you can feel it. Rick has put himself on the printed page for us to engage with him. I, for one, treasure the spot on my shelf he now occupies as it suggests that heartfelt, independent comics are something worth cherishing. There’s nothing fleeting about Big Oldie. –Sean Arenas (Secret Sailor, PO Box 2312, Bloomington, IN 47402)