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MS Harkness

Time Under Tension

On sale date: October 24, 2023

M.S. Harkness is graduating from art school in Minneapolis and facing a crossroads in life. She has a strained relationship with her mother, a sexually abusive father on parole, and is in love with an aspiring MMA fighter who mostly hangs out with her to get high and already has a girlfriend and career prospects with a fight promotion. An art career feels untenable — as one professor tells her, “Don’t expect to get by on this fucked-up broke girl shit.” She decides to get a personal trainer’s certificate — it seems like a feasible and sensible career option — but continues to dabble as a sex worker and weed dealer because the money is too irresistible. With idle hands due to no classes or full-time work, M.S. has ample time to aimlessly fuck around — or, to get her shit together. “I want to be better, I want to be stable and solid. I don’t want to keep aimlessly shifting between untenable situations.”

Harkness’s bold, precise black-and-white cartooning and eye for storytelling invites the reader in, while her sharp wit and naturalist ear as a writer takes it away from there. Never didactic, always real, Time Under Tension is a spirited and assured work of graphic memoir.


"[Harkness's] material feels fresh—even new—owing to her unbelievably fearless, unflinching depiction of herself." — Library Journal

"Harkness reaches for something deeper and more emotionally resonant [and] proves she is a cartoonist worth watching." — The Comics Journal

"M.S. Harkness is quickly establishing herself as perhaps the premier comics memoirist of our time." — Solrad

"Harkness is a smart, tough, fearless cartoonist." — Kevin Huizenga (A River at Night)


Paperback / Softback
Black and white.
6" × 7.5"