cover image Please Don’t Step on My JNCO Jeans

Please Don’t Step on My JNCO Jeans

Noah Van Sciver. Fantagraphics, $14.99 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-1-68396-375-2

Eisner nominee Van Sciver (Fante Bukowski) returns with a hit-or-miss collection of autobiographical short comics culled from alt-weekly newspapers, ranging from mini-memoir and existential musings to gag strips. The strongest concern Van Sciver’s childhood, where he was the second-to-youngest in a large, downwardly mobile family. In one six-episode tale, he recalls going trick-or-treating at age 14, unable to resist one last attempt at preserving childhood. In another poignant and funny episode, Van Sciver remembers a “magical moment” when a kind stranger gave him a box of snack cakes, which Van Sciver proceeded to hide away to eat later. Other comics, set in the present, highlight moments when Van Sciver suddenly comprehends the inescapable responsibilities of being an adult—or just riffs a bit, as when he makes an obvious joke when his girlfriend needs a stud-finder tool, which he then proceeds to run into the ground. But he returns to the cartoonist-on-a-deadline trope far too often, resulting in strips that feel forced and uninspired, often with weak punch lines. His art maintains its goofy, self-deprecating style, his self-portrait grimacing and hunched. It’s an overall lighthearted grab bag that should appeal chiefly to Van Sciver’s devoted fans. (Nov.)