Although autobiographical comix fall in and out of favor, I’ve always found them deeply fascinating. Perhaps, this is because I’m shamelessly nosey about other people’s lives, and creators of autobiographical comics books are often not at all shy about sharing – sometimes even too much information.
Too much information isn’t the case with Yearbook Stories: 1976-1978, a small comic book featuring two autobiographical stories written by Chris Staros, whom many will know as the co-publisher of alt-comix/small arts publisher, Top Shelf Productions, of course, the publisher of this comic book. Chris doesn’t take the Joe Matt path to autobiography; rather he’s gentle and light-hearted like such faux-autobio as “The Wonder Years” or “How I Met Your Mother,” except Staros won’t cause diabetes like the former and isn’t as frilly and empty as the latter.
There are two stories in Yearbook Stories. First, is the Eisner-nominated, “The Willful Death of a Stereotype,” drawn by Bo Hampton, in which Staros recounts how as a high school freshmen, he tried to become class president. Staros recounts his struggles to fit in with pain that is oddly sweet and comforting (perhaps, because it is so familiar). The pacing is just right, like getting the temperature setting to cook a delicate dish just right. He hits upon the right moments in time that convey to the reader the setting and mood he is trying to recall. Of course, this is an idealized recollection of one’s past, and Hampton’s art, with its sepia-like qualities, captures the mood. The combination of Staros’ flavorful recollection and Hampton’s pitch-perfect art leaves you asking for more.
The second story, “The Worst Gig I Ever Had,” drawn by Rich Tommaso, visually looks like it belongs in an indie anthology (like the late Zero Zero or Drawn & Quarterly). It’s basically a funny story about one of those crazy high school days one tells friends. It’s nice, but pales next to the poignant and undeniable “Willful Death.”