Without going into the gory details, it’s been a negative time both in Book World and Life World in a lot of ways, so instead of bringing the sadness today, I’ll bring the smiles and rainbows and white light beams of positive healing energy and whatnot instead. I’ll get back to hating on various things, I promise. But for now, graphic novel recommends! Share the love and the oms and all that shit. Really.
Megahex—Simon Hanselmann’s chronicle of the (mostly housebound) adventures of Megg, a stoner witch; Mogg, her cat familiar/boyfriend; Owl, their roommate, who is always attempting to defuck his life and always manages to refuck it again; and Werewolf Jones, who is a werewolf and who will stick his dick in your ear. A lot of Megahex involves really stupid, mean, stoned antics—characters falling over, characters throwing shit at each other, characters pulling dumb pranks with their genitalia or asses or nasty feet—but I laughed stone sober, which is no mean feat. And the book takes a turn for the deeper at the end with the “Silver Sequin Miniskirt” story and the death of Megg’s mom. Hanselmann doesn’t draw Megg as the victim of sexy depression that can totally be fixed with a pep talk/dick/sunshine, but as the real deal, and for that I thank him.
These are super fucked up, seedy characters, but I feel for them, I want them to stay exactly as they are and yet make it out alive, two contradictory goals. I always want them to be seeing that dick-slash-ice cream cone in the sky, you know?
Other recommendations: Life Zone, the “Megg’s Coven” strips online (trigger warning: harsh)
Beauty—Coddie is a poor servant in an inn. She’s plain, and it doesn’t help that she smells like, well, cod from scaling fish all day. The village children tease her. The innkeeper’s son would be her sweetheart, but the innkeeper tells Coddie in no uncertain terms that an ugly girl like her isn’t good enough for her precious son… Unhappy and alone, Coddie runs off to the woods, where her tears accidentally free a powerful fairy. Coddie wishes for beauty, and the fairy grants her the appearance of beauty. In spades. Nothing can mar this enchantment—not injury, not illness, not age. Is it really for the best when your wishes come true?
Beauty is truly an epic fantasy story, but not from the point of view of the usual epic hero. Coddie (now Beauty) drives men mad—they see her as a prize, attack her, and attack each other for her. Women are less immediately dangerous, but they fear her and turn on her. A lesser story might end with Beauty “properly” punished for daring to want more for herself, but Beauty evolves from possession to schemer to powerful wielder of glamour. Beauty herself isn’t a saint, thank god—at first, she behaves just like you probably would, if your most naive wish came true at the age of 14 or so, but the story allows her to learn from her mistakes. The art is beautiful from the first page to the last, and there’s even a coda at the end that shows that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.
Other recommendations: anything by Kerascoet because their art is beautiful and inspiring. The Miss Don’t Touch Me books are from the Hubert/Kerascoet team that did Beauty and they are great if you like 30’s Paris/mysteries/kink, and who doesn’t like at least one of those things?
Shoplifter—The story of Corinna Park, a twenty-something woman who works in advertising to pay the bills while yearning for/avoiding making human connections and art. To add interest to her life holding pattern, she shoplifts magazines for fun. Park really gets across that feeling of professional and personal exhaustion—wanting more out of life, yet so disengaged that nothing seems like a worthwhile attempt. This is a short story and pretty simple, plot-wise, but it’s still affecting. Shoplifter is also remarkable for having a female protagonist who wants romance—but gets a genuinely happy ending without the traditional “happily ever after.”
Other recommendations: You know, I haven’t read anything else from Cho. I’m not sure if he’s done anything else book-length? So I’ll throw this open to all-author recommendations, if anyone wants to give one.