Today’s blog post is brought to you by Ingrid, one of our wonderful cashiers!
An Ode to the Graphic Novel
In my humble opinion, it was hard to find graphic novels worth my time as a young, restless angry teenager. Books held the key to my aching heart. But as I grew older and allowed the gift of time to take over my being (and literary tastes) I began to see Graphic Novels not only as beautiful gems in the sea of literature but a captivating medium of exquisite storytelling.
In the short time I’ve invested reading Graphic Novels, I’ve come across stories that broke my heart and others that mended it. Here are a few of my favourites…
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer
I have to be honest; Special Exits rang so close to home that it was heart-breaking to read in certain sections. The book takes a sensitive subject (like the degenerative health of parents during the last years of their lives) and manages to engage the reader into a tear filled bundle of emotional joy. The artist and author Joyce Farmer took an incredible 11 years to complete this work of art. She’s well known for her contribution for Tits n’ Clits during the raging misogyny in underground commix in the 1970’s. The main characters allow us to suffer alongside them and help us to question our own mortality. Never has a story with such sensitive subject matter managed to instill happiness and sadness inadvertently.
On a lighter note, it was great to see Lars and Rachel (Joyce’s parents) having such a youthful and humorous approach to an otherwise horrible situation. Between being caught in the Los Angeles riots, convalescent homes and grocery shopping we can’t help but imagine what simple excess they’ll get into next. For anyone who has had or is having a similar experience, this book can act as a sedative if not a bittersweet reminder that life in essence is as good as we make it.
Stitches by David Small
Told in a child’s voice we follow a memoir that perhaps could be held a Horror classic if it had been fiction. Through a series of X-Ray procedures and prolonged household silences we follow David through a series of events that morphed his life into an isolated existence. The undercurrent of this plot is in-between those silences. We grasp that being a parent (and a child) never comes with instructions, and therefore we sometimes err unapologetically. In a sequence of events that did more harm than good, David and his parents undergo transformations both literally and emotionally. A beautiful graphic novel if you’re into haunting, melancholic and nightmarish story-telling.
Paying For It by Chester Brown
The introduction from Robert Crumb only mildly prepares you for the debauchery that is Paying For It. We follow the blossoming maturity of Chester Brown in his quest for loveless love. Told in a dry hilarious tone with a timbre of magnificent one-liners, Brown introduces us into the simple almost boring world of prostitution (in Canada). The aloofness and mild sentiment of Chesters’ character is almost too endearing. I won’t spoil the story by giving you a step-by-step synopsis as to what to expect, but I will say that after reading this novel you’ll look at the “business”, love and John’s in a whole new light…
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
My fascination with Serial Killers began at a very young age, needless to say that Dahmer stood out like a bloody thumb in the plethora of evil. I’ve seen plenty of interviews and read an amalgam of discussions on this dude and merely got a glimpse of his “disease”. But I wanted something more, something that came from someone other than himself, an outsiders perspective; enter Derf Backderf. He reminds us that these “killers’ were part of our society, our public school system, our working world before they tinged their reputations. Told in a timeline of unruffled memories and unrequited questions, we are reminded that humanity can be both frail and stout. An enjoyable read if you like that sort of thing.
*On a side note, if you enjoy these beautiful works of art, Robert Crumb (Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural) is a fascinating entity all his own. If you dare to delve deeper into his psyche (and his frivolous enigmatic sexuality) please check out the movie Crumb available for sale behind the counters, I promise it won’t disappoint.
WARNING: Not for the faint of heart.