I first read John Porcellino in 2001. The book was Perfect Example, first published by Highwater Books in 2000 and then reprinted by Drawn & Quarterly in 2005 and has been in print since then. It collects King-Cat Comics from 1997-98. (#52-53) That books deals with John's teenage years of growing up, growing apart from himself. John suffers from depression.
I connected with Perfect Example because John likes the same punk bands I did in the 1980s - Husker Du and Minutemen. I wrote to John and he kindly wrote back.
In 2005, Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man was published by La Mano. It collects stories John did about this summer job he took up for 5 years during college. These stories were from King-Cat Comics from 1989 to 1999. This event is important as it had something to do with John's medical condition in 1997-98.
Finally, King-Cat Classix was published in 2007 by Drawn & Quarterly and that collected materials from the first 50 issues of King-Cat Comics.
I just read finish Map of My Heart (D&Q, 2009) some weeks ago and it's still staying with me. It collects selected stories from King-Cat Comics #51-61 (1996-2002). In those 6 tumultuous years, John got married, resettled to another city/anxiety, fell seriously ill, got divorced and had a nervous breakdown. The stories end with him meeting someone new but he's still not sure about what lies ahead. Today, he is married to her and I am glad things have worked out for him.
It is only when I read the notes in Map of My Heart that I realised I have read John's life in order. From his final year in high school in Perfect Example to his college job in Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man and then the early years of King-Cat Comics in King-Cat Classix, it's like I've been prep for what would happen to John from 1996 onwards. With Map of My Heart, all the pieces had fallen into place and we are brought up to speed to 2002. Which means that when I first wrote to John in 2001, he was going through some really bad times in his life. And he was nice enough to write back.
That really struck me when I finally put Map of My Heart down.
p/s: John also did Thoreau at Walden in 2008 (The Center for Cartoon Studies) and Thoreau's philosophical view of the world would play a big part in how John deals with the ups and downs of life.