Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Count Your Sheep

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Something occured to me a few weeks ago. I read an unholy amount of webcomics these days (I think I’m following over 30 right now), and I always read the whole archive first. Some of those archives are HUGE. …like, book-length.

My procrastination = your review-reading pleasure.

Count Your Sheep!
By Adis! (Adrian Ramos)
Archive Read: October 2006
Rating: Adorable

Genre: Humor, real life, cute.
Format: Strip and single-panel
Style: Simple, monochromatic
Published? Not yet.
One of the reasons I love webcomics is that they are uncensored–anything goes. So it’s refreshing and doubly endearing to find a comic about the simpler, more innocent things in life.

CYS centers around three characters: Laurie, a single mom, Katie, her young daughter, and Ship, their imaginary friend who originated as a counting-sheep. The strip explores both a child’s view of the world, and the melancholy of a young woman struggling to be a good mother after the death of her husband. It’s become very, very popular in the three years it’s been running. The Webcomic Artists’ Awards nominated it in a slew of categories the first year they recognized it, and this summer marked 600 strips. Yay, Adis!!

CYS is absolutely deserving of all the praise it’s gotten. When you’re feeling low, it will make you smile. When you’re feeling open, it will spark nostalgia. All parents and all children will find something that reminds them of themselves.

The art is simple, but effective. Everyday life is depicted in blue tones (which was at first used to show that it was night time), and flashbacks to Laurie’s childhood are in purple–which feels like sepia. The layout is not static, and single-panel comics have always been included in the regular schedule. Since Adis! got a tablet, he’s been experimenting and some wonderful ideas have come from that.

Katie is a precocious child, who recently has been using some very impressive words. She’s only seven, but she has always taken an interest in global events, and she can often be found berating the newspaper for being too fatalistic.

Laurie, meanwhile, it always trying to make ends meet. Through dialogue, we know so much about how they live… Laurie works two jobs, and often has to cut back on one thing to afford another. She worries that she won’t be able to send Katie to college. (“Sure, she can take the bus there… she’ll have to walk back, though.”) It’s also heavily implied that she is at least intermittantly depressed, as she cries often, due to their current circumstances and the loss of her husband, Marty.
Marty is a quiet presence in the CYS world. He has yet to appear, but is often in the thoughts of the characters, and the younger Laurie in flashbacks is often complaining about him. He had a crush on her from the time they were children, and she refused him for a long, long time. She did eventually fall in love with him and they married, but he died before Katie was born.

Despite so much pain and worry plagueing Laurie’s mind, Katie maintains a child’s cheerful outlook. She does miss her father, and is aware that her mother cries, and that they can’t afford to go on vacation, but she accepts these things as being part of her life, and she goes on. I know exactly how this works, because my early years were much the same.

Perhaps the most interesting concept of the strip is that Ship, the sheep, is an intergenerational imaginary friend. Laurie created him at some point when she was very young, and he was her best friend. They grew apart sometime in her teens, but when Katie was born he came back into her life and has been Laurie’s strong shoulder to lean on while learning to parent this energetic little girl. He has always been the older, wiser, slightly aloof figure to their slightly bumbling ways, but even Ship makes mistakes. Though Katie’s pillow is HER best friend, Ship is her constant companion.

Together, they are a family.

Read it and go to bed!

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Written by Shen

October 28, 2006 at 12:22 am

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