Joyce Farmer’s memoir chronicles the decline of the author’s parents’ health, their relationship with one another and with their their daughter, and how they cope with the day-to-day emotional fragility of the most taxing time of their lives.
Elderly parents Lara and Rachel, who have enjoyed a long and loving married life together, are rendered in fine, confident pen lines. Set in southern Los Angeles (which makes for a terrifying sequence as blind Rachel and ailing Lars are trapped in their home without power during the 1992 Rodney King riots), backgrounds and props are lovingly detailed: these objects serve as memory triggers for Lars and Rachel, even as they eventually overwhelm them and their home, which the couple is loathe to leave. Special Exits is laid out in an eight-panel grid, which creates a leisurely storytelling pace that not only helps to convey the slow, inexorable decline in Lars’ and Rachel’s health, but perfectly captures the timbre of the exchanges between a long-married couple: the affectionate bickering; their gallows humor; their querulousness as their bodies break down.
Though Lars and Rachel are the protagonists of Special Exits, Farmer makes her voice known through creative visual metaphors and in her indictment of the careless treatment of the elderly in nursing homes. Special Exits gracefully deals with the hard reality of caring for aging loved ones: those who are or who have been in similar situations might find comfort in it, and those who haven’t will find much to admire in the bravery and good humor of Lars and Rachel.
Joyce Farmer, best known for co-creating the Tits ’n Clits comics anthology in the 1970s, a feminist response to the rampant misogyny in underground comix, spent 11 years crafting Special Exits, a graphic memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack’s Our Cancer Year, about caring for her dying father and stepmother.
"One of the best long-narrative comics I've ever read, right up there with Maus... I actually found myself moved to tears. – R. Crumb
• Review: "So, big shit poppin’ in Mome 20. Good thing it’s also pretty good! ...[W]hat works works really well thanks mostly to bravura cartooning. [...] Here’s to 20 more volumes of this occasionally frustrating, occasionally fascinating, always worth reading series." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "Time travel is impossible but a good anthology can sometimes be ordered in such a way that we can get a better sense of how works of art looked to their earliest audience. That’s something Supermen! achieves, so it’s a book I’m holding on to." – Jeet Heer, Comics Comics
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talked to Jaime Hernandez at SPX — from Part 1: "I guess I was pretty good at copying. When I got older, I thought it was bad to copy, because you weren’t a real artist. That’s bull, because I found that when I would copy something, I could draw it for the rest of my life. Let’s say I copied a car or a cart or a certain kind of chair. If I copied it, I could say, 'oh, hey, that turned out pretty good, and, oh hey, I know how to draw it for the next twenty years.'"
• Interview (Audio): Mark E. Hayes of the Passing Notes radio show/podcast talks to Jaime Hernandez "about the latest Love and Rockets, comics-to-movies, and Archie. Yes, that Archie."
Here's a cool thing that Ray Fenwick has done: pattern designs for a series of books from Houghton Mifflin in which two of an author's works are bound together as one volume. See them individually on Ray's Flickr.
[A brief meta note: I'm trying a different approach to "Things to See," spotlighting certain things with individual posts, rounding up regularly-featured items in omnibus posts as before, and possibly moving some links to the "Weekend Webcomics" posts. Feedback is welcome.]
This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators are saying about our releases this week, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
80-page full-color 10.25" x 9" hardcover • $22.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-378-1
"And on the other side of things, barring a continuation of Weasel (which by the end had basically turned into this), Fantagraphics brings a new 80-page, 10.25″ x 9″ hardcover collection of the best of Dave Cooper’s most recent paintings, drawings and photographs." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Bent is a new one from Dave Cooper collecting the past five years’ worth of paintings, ink drawings, pencil sketches, and photographs all as bizarre and as strange as you’d expect." – Gosh! Comics
120-page color/b&w 7" x 9" softcover • $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-365-1
"In which the now-well-established Fantagraphics house anthology celebrates a nice round number with a spanking new cover design..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Your $15 will get you 120 pages of work from Steven Weissman, Sergio Ponchione, Jeremy Teinder, Aidan Koch, Dash Shaw, Sara Edward-Corbett, Josh Simmons, T. Edward Bak, Derek Van Gieson, Ted Stearn and more." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Also from Fantagraphics is the latest in their flagship anthology, MOME, the landmark 20th volume so they’ve done their maths and provided us with the following facts: 5 years, 20 volumes, 72 artists, and 2,352 pages of comics. Blimey." – Gosh! Comics
"Congratulations to Eric Reynolds on a mighty run of books, and let's hope it continues until it's a undeniable all-timer in the very tough room that is the comics anthology." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
With its long-awaited second volume, this witty and sublimely drawn fantasy eases into a relaxed comedy of manners as Lady Jain settles into her new life in Castle Waiting.
Unexpected visitors result in the discovery and exploration of a secret passageway, not to mention an epic bowling tournament. A quest for ladies’ underpants, the identity of Pindar’s father, the education of Simon, Rackham and Chess arguing about the “manly arts,” and an escape-prone goat are just a few of the elements in this delightful new volume.
The book also includes many flashbacks that deepen the stories behind the characters, including Jain’s earliest romantic entanglements and conflicts with her bratty older sisters, the horrific past of the enigmatic Dr. Fell, and more.
• Review: "Lucky in Love is an oddly charming book. It takes the tradition of immigrant fiction and wartime stories and channels them through archetypal cartooning styles, crafting a book that looks lighthearted but is actually darker in tone and theme than it might appear on the face of it. [...] My rating: 4 of 5 stars." – Jamie S. Rich, Confessions of a Pop Fan
• Review: "In stunning black ink on gloriously evocative sepia pages... comes a light-hearted, heavy-hitting barbed-edged faux autobiography that is a moving testament to the life of the average Joe. [...] Drawn in a wild and captivating pastiche of Zoot-Suit era animated styles and frenetically Jitterbugging teen movies; marrying Milt Gross’ He Done Her Wrong and Count Screwloose to Milton Knight’s Hugo and Midnight the Rebel Skunk the bold, broadly Bigfoot cartooning style used imparts a seductive gaiety to the folksy monologue and completely disguises the subtle landmines this tale conceals in the narrative. [...] Lucky in Love is utterly absorbing, purely cartoon entertainment, strictly for adults and immensely enjoyable." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "It was hard to resist when I looked at Chieffet (script) and DeStefano's (artwork) comic book Lucky in Love which came out the other day. DeStefano's drawing is damn inviting in its retro style, and Fantagraphics has succeeded exceptionally well with the design of the book... The only real problem is that DeStefano is such a lively artist, while the story is more dramatic." – Simon Wigzell,Serienytt.se (translated from Swedish)
• Review: "Lucky in Love is both a humorous and often naïve look at our past as a country and as sex-obsessed teenagers. It is a deadly serious story about the fantasy and the reality of war and heroism. It’s drawn in a unique style that it reminiscent of classic Disney or Golden Age comic strips and is filled with hopes, dreams, fantasies and often unfortunate realities. It’s a great coming-of-age story and history lesson that shouldn’t be missed. Grade: A-" – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "There's already a lot of reviews out about how amazing Jaime's stories are in this issue [of Love and Rockets: New Stories]. I don't really have anything to add. It's all true. It's very touching, truly a masterpiece. But let me also say how much I love the cover illustration. I keep looking at it — the perfect composition, the colours, the weird, blue sun, the small details (like the baby held by the woman in the background), the boy being separated from the others, not looking at the viewer the way the girls do. It means even more when you've read the story. Jaime has already created a lot of iconic covers, but this might be the best one." – Jason (the cartoonist), Cats Without Dogs
• Review: "That Greg Sadowski has gathered up 40 or so mostly forgotten non-EC Comics is cause for celebration... Sadowski does an excellent job of providing historical information for the talent and studios producing each story here... The book ends up being just about right. Good scholarship to put the stories into context, a glossy gallery in the middle of covers of the horror comics magazines of the day, and a highly entertaining selection of material from some of the better talents of the era. ...[Four Color Fear] is a solid primer and should be an entertaining one for years to come..." – Christopher Allen, Trouble With Comics
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