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James Kochalka’s ‘American Elf’ Is Coming To An End After 14 Years

Unless you count those Silver Age stories where Superman writes his memoirs in a giant golden book in the dead language of the planet Krypton, I’ve never been a huge fan of diary comics. The one exception has always been American Elf, the long-running “sketchbook diary” that James Kochalka has been doing every day for more than fourteen years. The short, simple comics and Kochalka’s easy way of capturing the passage of time has made them one of the most compelling and deceptively simple autobiographical comics I’ve ever read.

And now, as Kochalka announced in a strip last week, American Elf is coming to an end at the end of the month.The strip originally kicked off way back in October of 1998, focusing on small details of Kochalka’s everyday life as a cartoonist, musician and (at the time) a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. Over the years, it’s become his signature work, chronicling the changes in his life as he devoted his life to focusing on art and music, becoming a father, and occasionally rocking out with a friend that he always draws as a dog. But as Kochalka said in a blog post on December 5, American Elf “was never meant to last forever” — although one hopes that the complete archives at the website and Top Shelf’s phone book-sized collected editions will stick around long enough for one last big read.

As for what Kochalka plans on doing next, he has no shortage of projects. We’ve covered the SuperF*ckers animated series pretty thoroughly, and he’s always kept busy with projects like the all-ages Johnny Boo and the Eisner-winning Dragon Puncher. Whatever he does next, I imagine he’ll have a little more free time to get things done.

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