Future readers of this review, I’m writing this a couple of days after finishing Lucy’s last book (“Something New“), and I’m still mildly feverish from a cold. One of those facts will be useful for some context, while the other is more of an excuse if I start to ramble more than usual. This book is a direct follow-up to her last; that book tells the tale of all the planning that went into her wedding and finally the wedding itself, while this one is all about all the planning and troubles that went into conceiving and eventually having a child. I recommended the last book to anybody even thinking about planning a wedding, so you’d think I’d recommend this book to anybody even thinking about having a baby. And I do! I very much do. Lucy did an amazing amount of research. But I also very much recommend this book to anybody who thinks that they have a valid opinion about pregnant women, types of birth control, the history of medical research into pregnancies, or just the reality of living while pregnant. I read constantly so I already knew a lot of these facts, but frankly there were even more that I didn’t know. Morning sickness, for example. As Lucy shows, we mostly know it from sitcoms, where the pregnant lady excuses herself for a quick barf before rejoining the group for their adventures/hijinx. In real life it’s more like weeks if not months; some women have to be hospitalized for the entirety of their pregnancies because of it. And it’s not one quick barf, it’s constant, overpowering nausea. It also often has to be dealt with with a smile, as this is usually before a pregnancy is announced to family and friends. She describes it as akin to the worst hangover morning she’s ever had… but for weeks. Let that one sink in, drinkers. It’s also rarely mentioned in popular culture just how common miscarriages can be (1 in 4 pregnancies!), which can serve to make women think they should be ashamed of their miscarriage, or that they must have done something “bad” to cause it. And the state of research into pregnancy, really right up until the 1900’s! Just think of how misogynistic society as a whole was for most of those years, then try to picture any serious research being done into the mysterious but “evil” lady parts during that time. Somehow, the reality is even worse than that. Labor pains were seriously thought of as something that women deserved because of the myth of “original sin.” Doctors said that kind of shit! Agh, sorry, I’m getting off track, and mildly enraged. Lucy didn’t have an easy go of it with the pregnancy, nor with the depression that came from some of the complications. But her honesty and humor in dealing with it all made this book a complete joy to read. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book, which I wasn’t expecting given the subject matter. Look, I can’t order everyone to read every book I like. Would that I could! But before you even think about offering advice to the pregnant lady at the bus stop on whether or not she should be carrying that thing, read this book, or at least do some research. Believe me, they probably don’t want to hear from you, and you probably don’t have as much useful information to give as you might think. $19.99
I feel the need to start this review off with a disclaimer or two: I’ve never been engaged (meaning I’ve never been all that close to getting married), I have serious concerns about the whole concept of monogamous marriage and I’ve had a cold for the last couple of days, meaning that I’m feverish and mildly delirious. The perfect conditions to write a review! This is the story of Lucy’s relationship, the bizarre path taken to a proposal, and every little thing that goes into planning a wedding. Lucy also has the same inherent mistrust of the wedding process as I do (if anything, her concerns dwarf mine), meaning that she was examining every aspect of it as it came up and decided, bit by bit, which aspects she wanted to keep, which she wanted to change and which things to make entirely her own. If you’re planning on getting married any time soon (but not too soon, or your plans will already be completely locked in), I can’t recommend this book enough. Lucy lays out several areas where she was able to shave costs off the ceremony. Granted, these might now all be possible for you if you’re not surrounded by amazing artist friends and family, but a few of these steps are universally applicable. As for the graphic novel itself, the sheer amount of information I learned here was staggering. I knew that getting a wedding dress was arduous, but I had no idea the scope of it, or that it often took 6 months (!!!) after finding the perfect dress to have it in your hands. The number of steps involved, the number of people involved, the impossibility of keeping everyone happy… this book did more than anything else I’ve read to explain why it takes about a year to actually plan a wedding. And as for the various wedding traditions? Lucy seemingly researched all of them, and the sample image below shows just a few of the creepy and/or horrific origins of them. For example, that thing about it supposedly being bad luck to see your fiance on the wedding day before the wedding itself? That goes back to arranged marriages, where it was though that the sight of this stranger could cause the fiance to flee. So… not much use in modern times, right? There was even a fairly adorable scene where Lucy and her fiance intentionally woke up together on the wedding day, because both knew they’d be too busy to see each other for most of the day. As there’s so much here I feel like I could go on forever, but I’ll wrap this up by saying it also works really well as a sustained narrative, not just for the piles of piles of practical information. She’s also effortlessly funny, and this book was a good reminder that (outside of a few anthologies), this website is mostly Lucy Knisley-free. After reading this, I’ll be fixing that mistake sooner rather than later. $20
Hey kids, or anybody who has started reading comics in the last few years? Are you interested in the history of mini comics, why they’re such a source of passion for so many people? Well, maybe not in numbers, but in level of interest and dedication in following certain artists? Your answer is this volume. If you have no interest in the history, away with you! This one can be for the old timers. This is a collection of the best of the “Not My Small Diary” anthology, and if you read small press comics in the 90’s and 00’s, you will recognize plenty of these names. In fact, good luck not getting lost in a Google hole or trying to figure out what so many of these people are up to these days. Notable names include (but are not limited to) Jeff Zenick, Dan Zettwoch, Patrick Dean, Raina Telgemeier, Jesse Reklaw, Carrie McNinch, Sam Spina, Roberta Gregory, Kurt Wolfgang… you know what, there are just too damned many names, and they’re all in the tags, so check that part out. If any of those names made you say “hey, I wonder what they’re up to these days” then this book is for you. These are mostly snippets of stories, but they’re all complete by themselves. Sometimes the stories follow a theme, like notable dates or moments in their lives, but really they’re all over the place. If it seems like I’m avoiding getting into specifics, that is entirely the case. If you were around for all these artists when they first started, you’re going to get lost in this instantly. If not, this is an excellent way for you to figure out what the big deal was about these people all along. I guess it’s possible that it’s the nostalgia talking and that people might not connect to these stories now, but screw that. These are tales of human weakness (and occasionally triumph), and those stories are universal and timeless. Most of the original issues of this series are out of print, so this is your best option all around. The book itself is $7.50 if you see Delaine at a convention, but if not $10 should be enough to cover the shipping, and I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s rare for any anthology not to have a weak story or two, but these are all golden.
Trubble Club #1
You know, there really are times when it’s pointless to review a comic. It sounds like a cop out, I know, but Trubble Club is a jam comic involving about a dozen cartoonists in Chicago. They meet every Sunday, put together some jam strips, and (I’m guessing here, as the actual information about this process on the website was sparse) put out a new book whenever they put enough material together. Who are these people? Really, this should be all it takes to convince you to check this out: Al Burian, Lille Carre, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Lucy Knisley, Rachel Niffennegger, Bernie McGovern, Onsmith, Laura Park, Grant Reynolds, Becca Taylor, Jeremy Tinder and Marco Torres. If you’re new to this site and these names aren’t familiar to you, plug just about any of them into that search option up there (the full list of artists will be restored one of these days, I swear) and spend some time checking out some quality work. Future volumes, judging from the website, will have other people, and visiting cartoonists will probably get in on the act as well. Honestly, I’m confused as hell about the process here. Every single page is its own story, and it seems most of the time like the next page starts with an idea from the previous page before veering off in its own direction… except for the times when it seems completely new. And I thought for a while that it was one artist per page, but upon closer inspection maybe others are jumping in on different panels. All I know for sure is that this much talent thrown together in a room can’t go wrong, and I hope they keep it up for… let’s see, they’re probably all in their late 20’s or early 30’s… how about another 50 years or so? OK, fine I’ll mention a few of the topics, just to prove how pointless it is to analyze such a thing. An unhygienic stump, Sackley, a doomed giant hot dog, “footsie”, mancakes, and we gotta cook this hog. This is $3 and worth every penny.
Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)
Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.Â Ta-da!Â What more do you need to know?Â There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.Â That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.Â Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.Â From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.Â Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyedÂ and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.Â Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.Â If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.Â Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.Â So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.Â Sounds like a no-brainer to me.Â $10