With 100 frames of incongruously playful observation connected only by authorship, wit, and uncanny brilliance, The Portable February is a Cliff’s Notes thesis on existence, told in line drawings and one-liners by author, poet, and musician David Berman. Randomly exposing the vaudevillian arc of history, Berman extracts the extraordinary from the ordinary. He brings a furied ennui to every moment, grabbing the reader like an LSD-dosed and recently-ousted college professor who hijacked a tourist bus, calmly calling out the sights and overlooked absurdities of American life armed with a keen wit, a soft spot for pop culture, and the occasional ax to grind.
Just flipping through this book, one might say, “This guy can’t even fucking draw,” but the crudeness of his visual accompaniment is intentional.
In this visual follow-up to his critically-acclaimed book of poetry, Actual Air, David Berman tasks himself with contemplating the missing socks in the laundry load of life. Able to portray human futility in one frame, as in “The Soul and its Shtick,” the book’s visual simplicity belies the complexity of thought, as in “Humbled by the Void,” while a casual humor defines another, like “Daytime Television.” In frames like “Irrational 15th Century Battle Scenes,” and “'We' stands for 'warn everybody,'” his playful love for humanity emerges, and in the sweet “All culture strives, folks,” you can take his beneficent observations to heart.
Berman’s inner and outer battles seep into the pages and the juxtaposition of impossibly insightful and wicked smart ideas hung on spare, but potent, frames is pure Berman. Read the rest