In May of this year independent comics publishers Alternative Comics and Hic + Hoc dropped the debut of Andrea Tsurumi in a collection of surreal yet relatable comics called Why Would You Do That. Tsurumi is an artist and illustrator who has been published in numerous other collections, including Little Nemo’s Big New Dreams and Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch, the latter of which won the 2013 MoCCA Award of Excellence. WWYDT is Tsurumi’s first solo book and thank god for that. Her work is a treasure.
The shorts and one-pagers in WWYDT range from sight gags, to acid trip-level weirdness, to memoir-esque reflection on self and place. Tsurumi’s work is layered, and what is especially striking is her ability anchor images of larger-than-life women in swimming pools, or poodles full of people, in human emotion and real life situations.
For example, the tragedy of war gets the confectionary treatment in a several page spread in which Cake and Pie fight each other. Various scenes play out that you would expect from a war story, including a peek in camp life, bloody battle sequences, and a pan away to nature in the middle to give the audience a breather. The exception in this case being all the characters are baked goods. This seems darkly hilarious until the last page in which several slices of pie are stacked atop one another, making the reader do a double take as they draw the parallel between the preparation of a mass grave and a bakery’s tray of day-olds. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
What really nailed me about WWYDT is the short near the end of the collection called “Hmtown.” This is the aforementioned memoir-style piece, which looks at a town through the eyes of someone who grew up there and then left. Tsurumi uses urban legend and personal memory to shift between realities, telling a single character’s story between the collected stories of an entire town. It’s about changing despite how constant a place may stay and let me just tell you it’ll slam you straight in your heart.
Overall, I definitely recommend picking up Why Would You Do That. It’s awesome to look at something so surreal and find yourself in it.