A heady mix of hand-made collage, lucid channeling, stream-of-consciousness scribbles, and verbal/visual poetry, the ever-unpredictable Devon Marinac’s self-published comics ‘zine Restaurant A.A. is, if nothing else, an exercise in pushing, perhaps even demolishing, boundaries that probably never really existed in any appreciable way apart from as assumptions in our own mind.
Which makes it a worthy enough creative endeavor right there, but in truth I think there’s more going on here than that — narrative isn’t he backbone of this work, but it’s not an afterthought, either, and if you put in the work required to decipher its meaning and message, you’ll find a smart piece of commentary on excess as it relates to both the creative impulse and the practicalities of everyday existence, a mixed-media declaration of intent in regards to the inherently limiting nature of classification, and maybe even, dare I say it, a few laughs.
This is formally ambitious stuff, to be sure, and while it’s ever-challenging, it’s never outright daunting, and keeping things just this side of accessible is perhaps Marinac’s most surprising achievement here. By all rights, much of what’s presented on these 20 pages should be alienating, so particular is its sensibility, and yet it never is : these are confounding images that nevertheless invite you in and compel you to explore, to interpret, to theorize. That’s, for lack of a better term, pretty fucking cool.
And aren’t we all better off drawing our maps through any given work in our own minds, anyway? There’s no trail of breadcrumbs here, but if you’re willing to trust yourself as much as Marinac clearly is, then you’ll not only find yourself meeting him at his level, but him (or, more specifically, his work) meeting you on yours.
Far be it from me to pretend to understand how that works, mind you — but then, I’m only (self-) charged with reviewing this stuff, I’d never claim to be of much use in creating something like it. That’s hardly unique to me, though — Marinac’s art could well and truly only come from him, so utterly singular is it in every aspect, and like or lump work of that nature, it’s nearly always worth checking out.
And check this out you most definitely should, as it firmly falls into “make up your own mind” territory. I probably could/should have checked it out sooner myself given its 2016 publication date, but better late than never, I suppose — and I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t have easily spent all that time between then and now deciding how to approach this review, anyway.
Not that I would have, mind you — but the point is simply that this is art complex enough (in the best possible way) to pre-occupy your thoughts for quite a long time. I’m not saying that after investing that much mental energy into figuring it out that you’d necessarily be any further along in doing so, but it’s gratifying to know that work which is capable of fully absorbing you for such an extended period even exists in the first place.
If you think I exaggerate — again, I’d return you to my borderline-admonition that you’d do well to simply check this out for yourself. It’s a lead-pipe cinch that you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Restaurant A.A. is available for $7 from Austin English’s Domino Books distro site at http://dominobooks.org/restaurantaa.html
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