Buying zines and mini-comics can be a little like going to a new ice cream shop. For a couple dollars you can usually get a quick bite of something that is a treat; sometimes it is great and other times, well, at least it is still ice cream. You Don’t Get There from Here #25 by Carrie McNinch was absolutely a cool and refreshing find. Bought without any prior knowledge of McNinch’s extensive history in the world of zines, I expected a quick, few minute read for the $2.00 cost. However, inside is a densely packed, multi-sitting read that is delightful and charming.
Composed of tiny, ongoing autobiographical strips, readers will feel at home with McNinch. Nothing tremendous happens in her life, in the way the most readers occupy much the same existence day-in and day-out. She worries about the days getting shorter, becoming older and her depression. Living in California, McNinch’s comic also allows the SoCal worries of hiking trails and canyon fires equal weight to life’s bigger questions, which rings absolutely true and familiar to other Angelenos. She takes trips, hangs out with friends, and gives attention to her cats. However ordinary this sounds (and is), there is something that is really narratively compelling about her work. Perhaps it is the level of honesty. Many moments of the well constructed strips provide the illusion that there is no filter between McNinch’s internal thought, the quirky, graceful lines that illustrate the stories, and the reader. In many ways the reader becomes the friend that McNinch doesn’t realize that she has, making her concerns about depression and becoming older more poignant and immediate to the reader. Even the cats, which are often a bit of light-hearted comic relief, seem to be spot-on with the language and dialog attributed to them. They are mischievous and smart without feeling cliché and readers will want to curl up next to them as much as McNinch does.
The space that McNinch occupies is a simple black and white world, which accurately paints the southern California landscape. The big night skies and the sad and vast burnt hillsides are very real. The first person space of McNinch’s storytelling and the often big and empty world of Los Angeles play off of one another and move the story through the changes of the seasons. Each strip also has the title and artist of a song to help set the mood and provide a little background rhythm to differentiate the days and propel the stories forward. You Don’t Get There form Here #25 is not only a mini comic but also a mix tape.
As the title implies, the current edition is part of a long running series of comics of the same title, which seem to be available for purchase online. In addition, McNinch also has a previous series, The Assassin and the Whiner, a chronicle of her tougher punk days. It is not often that the purchase cost seems inadequately low for the amount of quality provided by a product, but it happens here. You Don’t Get There form Here #25, is small in physical size, but large in enjoyability and pleasure. It makes me look forward to reading the previous 24 issues.