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Comic Books for People Who Think They Couldn’t Possibly Like Comic Books

17 Aug

I found this via xoJane, the new project of Jane Pratt, who I had a love/hate relationship with when she edited Jane magazine and kind of maybe sort of ran it into the ground?  xoJane seems a little dumber and more obnoxious and less sassy than Jane in its glory days, or than well, Sassy, Jane’s pre-Jane also now-defunct mag. But it’s also a blawggg and the standards are a bit lower when you have to produce constant content!

Geez, I don’t know what I think about xoJane, self-described as where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded.” :/ Cool. X_X   A little sassy, though. Check it out.

I DO like this post by Lesley Kinzel about comics for comics-haters. A lot of those she recommends are ladymade. Check it!

I'm assuming this is Lesley!

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Tamara Drewe

4 Aug

This graphic novel was made into a film in 2010. It received ok reviews, but whatever, I haven’t seen it and it’s not a ladymade film.

The book, however, is written by lady graphic novelist Posy Simmonds. This modern twist on Far from the Madding Crowd was originally published as a serialized comic in The Guardian.

I thought it was nice to read the whole story in a few sittings, though. It’s an interesting mix of big blocks of printed text and illustrations with speech bubbles. So it kind of looks like a hybrid between a children’s book and a traditional graphic novel. The writing is strong–perhaps stronger than the visuals–and the characters are well-developed and intriguing. A lot of them are terrible and foolish, but at the same time, self-aware. Tamara Drewe is a columnist/hottie (now that she’s hacked off her big nose) who returns to the small English town of her youth, where her neighbors include those at a writer’s colony and really bored teenagers. This book focuses a lot on the power and burden of beauty. Basically, everyone loses in this book – pretty and ugly alike. And Tamara’s beauty makes everyone kind of hate/fear/love her at the same time.

Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons

2 Aug

I’m almost done with Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons and oh dear readers, it’s good.

It’s a memoir with an epic sense of humor and some X_X poignant moments. This is dark comedy, but with a sweet side to remind us that things aren’t always completely 100% s@*&! forever. The mom is a major demon and growing up with poverty and unusual looks from being mixed race compounds the semi-autobiographical Barry character’s everyday teenage agonies. I felt myself getting teary-eyed at points! I have never felt that pull of the heartstrings before when reading a graphic novel. Sheesh, Barry’s a good storyteller, and as with Esther Pearl Watson‘s drawings, the crudeness/messiness/ugliness of Barry’s little drawn characters is irresistibly charming. This is probably why her work was syndicated in alt weeklies for 20 years!

The book is divided into mini-stories centering around particular demons. Here’s one (not my absolute favorite, but still pretty good) that I could find over at salon.com:

Unlovable

20 Jul

Seriously.

I disliked this when it was syndicated in Bust, but as I read it in book form, I warmed to the semi-fictional Tammy Pierce and her countless charms. How could you not like a diarist who chronicles the time and type of her own farts? Here’s a synopsis I did not write:

A soon-to-be teen classic: loosely based on a teenager’s diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom, Unlovable details the sometimes ordinary, sometimes humiliating, often poignant and frequently hilarious exploits of underdog Tammy Pierce. This remarkably touching and funny graphic novel tells the first-person account of Tammy’s sophomore year in 1985, from the first day of school to winter break. Her hopes, dreams, agonies and defeats are brought to vivid, comedic life by Watson’s lovingly grotesque drawings, filled with all the eighties essentials—too much mascara, leg warmers with heels and huge hair—as well as timeless teen concerns like acne,
dandruff, and the opposite sex (or same sex, in some cases).

In the epic saga that is Unlovable, Tammy finds herself dealing with: tampons, teasing, crushes, The Smiths, tube socks, facial hair, lice, celibacy, fantasy dream proms, gym showers, skid marks, a secret admirer, prank calls, backstabbers, winter ball, barfing, narcs, breakdancing, hot wheels, glamour shots, roller coasters, Halloween costumes, boogers, boys, boy crazy feelings, biker babes, and even some butt cracks. Tammy’s life isn’t pretty, but it is endlessly charming and hilarious.

I agree. Esther Pearl Watson’s book was…touchingly gross?

Vanessa Davis, Genius

15 Jul

Meet Vanessa Davis, amazing illustrator and cartoonist. Here’s an example of her awesomeness:

I fell in love w/ Davis’ first book Spaniel Rage, because of its messiness. Her diary comics are almost painfully honest and that’s refreshing in a world dominated by superhero comics, which are all about escapist overblown macho strength/power. I guess diary comics can be a little self-indulgent, but I never got that from Davis. She was really lettin it all hang out – I loved that she drew her own fat rolls while watching tv in her underwear. Her newer book, Make Me a Woman, is a lot slicker, but it’s still great! And it’s in color! Of course Drawn and Quarterly is going to make it fancy. Hehe, they say this in their company bio:

Book lovers, who appreciate exceptional quality in literature and design, laud D+Q for creating elegant objects that transcend the boundaries of books and comics.

Transcendant! Seriously though, check out Drawn and Quarterly offerings if you want to see some artistic and literary comics for a change. Does that sound snooty? I hope so. Most comics seem kind of juvenile, cliched, and boring to me, and as a lady, I have a hard time relating to anything, especially when all the female characters are like BOOBS!!!!

Dig through the crap to find gems like Vanessa Davis.