architects do not have the monopoly on dreams
There’s always a secret thrill reading somebody else’s diary, with a mixed bag of schadenfreude and reassurance being the benefit. Having a copy of The Everyday, by Adam Cadwell, or Ellerbisms by Marc Ellerby is like a license to view inside the diary of, and possibly inside the heads of the two (very different) protagonists. You are offered the opportunity to see life from their perspective, or at least the perspective offered. It may not look like it, but these are stories too, especially when placed end to end in the collections you can now buy.
Ellerbisms is not a diary as such, but a series of drawn vignettes, each daily issue daily consisting of a short strip (generally between 2 and 7 frames). The cast of characters is drawn from Marc’s world and all are portrayed as themselves, hence there being something of a community living in Ellerbisms. This is not just Marc’s diary: to a greater or lesser extent the strips are everyone else’s diary too. Sometimes the story does not quite come off, but this is a part of Ellerbism’s inherent charm: life’s like that and you just pick up again the next day. The writing and flowing line (and sometimes brush) drawings make each Ellerbism a small work of art.
Sensitive, funny, self-depreciating, Marc comes across well and you find yourself rooting for him. This has to be a personal voice (you just would not make it up) and hence is immediately accessible. The practice of sharing everyday is not without it’s disadvantages. A look inside someone else’s head can be a surprisingly generation specific experience and the further you are away from your 20’s, the less you may relate to this personally. Not that that should stop you reading, or buying, of course.
In a quite different vein is Adam Cadwell’s The Everyday. Although superficially similar, this strip is not so much in the same tone. Where Ellerbisms is almost always involving other people and outward dialogue, the Everyday is a reflection of mainly (but not always: see above) an internal monologue. This really is like having a look inside someone else’s head. Braver than Ellerbisms, equally sympathetic, but slightly less age specific in it’s direct appeal, the Everyday had me laughing out loud on the bus.
It wouldn’t be proper to pick a favourite between these two. Really, they read well as a pair, as the specific qualities of each were thrown into relief, by the other. Both Ellerbisms, Marc’s other book Chloe Noonan (about a superheroine who has to take the bus) and The Everyday will be available directly from the authors at Comiket, this next Sunday at the ICA and I’d urge you to buy both, as I did.
Thank you to Natalie, Anna, Hugh and Richie from Design Engine for contributing to this article by reading The Everyday and Ellerbisms, and offering up their comments.