I feel like one of the many cheapskates that Chris Pittas depicts in his comics. Pittas was doing volunteer work for the Out of The Blue Art Gallery, a place I’m pretty active in. I haven’t met him yet, but a while back a pretty dogeared copy of Tips, his pamphlet collection of online comics was lying around in that space, and I had no cash on me. I grabbed it with the intent to review it and a promise to make it up later, which to him I’m sure is the equivalent of a dine and dash. Sorry, Chris. I owe you four singles.
I did coffee shop work and waited tables for over five years throughout and beyond graduate school. I’d rather be molested by lions than go back to that type of systematized begging. When I read Tips the comic book (a sampling of the few dozen on the website), I get the closest thing to nostalgia for those years in that I feel relief knowing I was spared from having escaped it before I had wait tables in the information age.
Given my feelings when coworkers of mine became shoppers–people dining undercover with the intent to pick the meal, the ambiance, and especially the waiters apart–I think I support Pittas’ feelings towards Yelp, Twitter and other social media forms of Big Brothering low tier employees.
From firsthand experience, I know that many would-be-artists who end up in service jobs start having the creativity co-opted to the point that they only have ideas that revolve around their work. My favorite overheard idea was this guy who wanted a pitch a “Simpsons” episode of Starbucks coming to Springfield. That was second only to my series “The Adventures of Latte Boy” (sigh). It’s one in a million–no exaggeration–who gets it down on paper with even an ounce of insight. So far, Pittas has done it a couple dozen times, a good start and a feat worth noting.
I love the broken smile/non-smile that’s a staple of the yet-unnamed male lead character. I love the visceral nature of Pittas’ jokes and their delivery, even if the delivery is just an expletive. One one hand, I question how long a strip like this can stay fresh with the characters being just ciphers and the plot basically a monologue. On the other hand, I think it’s this simplicity that helps make these strips the most accurate depiction of the angry outlook many people working in the service sector possess.
I recommend buying this comic from local Boston stores. If you feel reservations buying a comic of material that is available online, then I would still go to the website and pick up the great shirt Pittas designed. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a link to buy the Tips pamphlet anyway, oddly enough. Pittas’ site is one I’ll be visiting frequently. He may run this idea into the ground, but he’s far less likely to run out of material anytime soon.