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Sparkplug Highlights: Watching Days Become Years #1, by Jeff LeVine

Be warned: the first issue of Watching Days Become Years will sneak up on you, make you feel like you’re understood and in good company, and then, at the last possible minute, punch you right in the gut.

Knowing that, do you still want to read it? You should.

Jeff LeVine writes about his life (or a life, in any case), which in itself isn’t anything groundbreaking. What makes him stand out in a sea of autobio comics is the way his vignettes — most often depicting quiet, single moments — speak to the broad human experience. The feelings he expresses, the small joys and dull pains of everyday life, are nothing I haven’t felt a hundred times before, which makes them resonate that much more strongly. His slow spiral into depression and substance abuse hits harder because we understand exactly how he got there — and maybe we’ve even been there ourselves. Watching Days Become Years is Jeff’s story, but it’s a story that belongs to a lot of other people, too. When do we realize that the minutes and hours gradually slipping by are our lives? How do we reconcile the way we spend our time with the people we want to be?

Honestly, though, Jeff’s art is reason enough to read this comic. A skillful blend of chunky lines and precise crosshatching create beautifully textured scenes that convey the emotional weight contained in the mundane. His settings and cityscapes are incredibly realistic but never distracting or overly busy, as if he has distilled the most essential elements from a photograph. Occasionally, there will be looser panels or whole pages done in grayscale washes, and these serve to show the audiences flashes of the dark, uncomfortable emotions that have been roiling just beneath the surface the entire time.

Watching Days Become Years is an incredible addition to anyone’s comic collection. And, when you’re left at the end of issue one with your mouth agape and your brow furrowed, take solace in the fact that there’s another issue right behind it.