I Saw You... is a collection of comics inspired by real-life I Saw You ads—you know, the kind we print in the back of this paper. The kind that you're sort of embarrassed to be reading in the first place, and even more embarrassed upon confirming that once again, no one's seen you.
But one of this book's consolations is that after reading it, you may no longer want to locate yourself in an anonymous ad in the back of a free newspaper. Take one "M4W" comic, illustrated by Emily Flake, in which a man writes, "I was right behind your sexy ass and kept tapping you on your ass. If you're reading this and you think this may be you respond with your pic(s) and info."
Now really, is that the kind of company you want to keep?
Of course, not all of the comics here are creepy. Some are as wistful and sad and emo as one would expect from a collection of indie comics about missed connections. Each cartoon is "inspired by" an I Saw You ad—some are literal representations of the ad's text, where some imagine more detail and backstory. The book was edited and conceived by Julia Wertz, the Brooklyn-based cartoonist who creates The Fart Party—she asked for submissions via her website, and what ended up in the book is a nice cross section of minor indie comic superstars (Peter Bagge, Jeffrey Brown) and relative unknowns. Much of the work in the book is set in either Portland or New York (guess which borough?), and the list of local contributors is impressive: Sarah Oleksyk, Shannon Wheeler, Jesse Reclaw, Elijah Brubaker, Indigo Kelleigh, Aaron Mew, Aaron Renier, Aron Nels Steinke, and probably a few more I'm missing. The elephants at the Oregon Zoo make an appearance in one comic, as does this here newspaper.
The work ranges wildly in style and quality, but it all runs the dismayingly short gamut from hopefulness to desperation. Just like reading the I Saw You's in the paper, this book opens a voyeuristic little window on private hopes—sweet and sad, horny and lonely, and at times, uncomfortably familiar.