James Kochalka’s Father

James Kochalka’s father died. 

And this is a death that effects me in a weird way. I don’t know James Kochalka personally. But I have read every single published diary comic that he has released, short of some stuff in the past two years. I followed Amy’s pregnancies (and miscarriage). I have felt the elation at his children being born. I have begun to dread the day that Spandy dies (this is my real fear, that I will wake up one day and Spandy will be dead and I will just weep uncontrollably all day long.)

Like everything else in James’ life (I feel like I can call him James, like we are old friends), I knew about his father’s health issues. I remember when James first suggested to his father that he should get tested for Alzheimers. I remember when his dad first started getting things really wrong. I remember James’ shame.

Which is interesting, because I wasn’t there, of course. But I can narrate it to you. I have little, significant clips of James’ life. They resemble the same clips that I have of my own life. I have a terrible memory, and if I really thought about it, I could probably produce about four panels worth of memory about any event. My memory itself is a diary comic.

So the death of James’ father moves me. I liked him. He was an old elf, a withered version of James. A view into the future.

This moment, maybe more than any others, signifies a movement forward; it shows that these diary comics are moving at an increased speed. Time is passing. We’re moving on, into oblivion.

James Kochalka’s diary comics span the gap between early tech culture and our digital lives. Someone uses a payphone in an early comic; now they don’t exist. All in the same life continuity. For me, that is the same as the moment that Marcel looks up into the sky and sees an airplane.

James Kochalka, mark my words, is our Proust.

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