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Don’t Open the Door!

Today on the site, Rachel Davies reviews Sarah Ferrick’s Yours.

Years ago, my primary hobby of choice was looking through old photos. Photos of a group of people mid-laugh at a restaurant’s outdoor patio, clutching Coca Cola branded paper cups that I admired for their antiquated design. Photos of men in a makeshift home–were they soldiers? Miners? I wasn’t quite sure. Women dressed in outdated styles posed with their homemade holiday tinsel. It was irrelevant whether I knew a subject of the photos, or even knew someone who knew someone–it was mostly an exercise taken up because I was bored with the outcome of my own social life. The inherent glossiness in a movie’s presentation of social life bored me–I wanted to observe the glee found in the opposite outcome without it being orchestrated, and that’s what the photos showed me. What was most exciting about these photos was when a photo was graced–months, years, decades ago–with a tiny inscription on the back, some textual clue of how the person behind the camera felt about its subject. The words left behind placed me in the original viewer’s feelings, making the experience all the more emotional.

Reading Sarah Ferrick’s Yours, I’m reminded of the warming sensation of flipping through old photos at this point in my life. While her drawings aren’t inherently social and don’t give me a glimpse into a communal experience, her spare, crushingly meaningful choice of text is similar to the words left behind on the back of a photograph. Her pages are distinctive for their lack of characters; when a figure appears, it’s actually a jolt–breaking with the text-only mode means stumbling to making sense of a character’s appearance. In place of figures, Ferrick morphs her letters to the point where they become more interesting than any standard character. She elevates and surrounds them, giving words far more meaning than available in a dictionary, saturating them with more personality than a simple italic possibly could.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year’s Doug Wright Awards were announced this Saturday.

The Librairie Astro comic store in Montreal is raising money via GoFundMe.

Our yearly city tax bill has swollen to an enormous size, leaving us with a $25,000 shortfall. And that’s why we’re coming to you, hat in hand.

We’re just a small independent book/comic shop, not some huge outfit like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. We don’t have more money than God, like they seem to.

—Reviews & Commentary. Hyperallergic reviews the 2dcloud horror anthology, Mirror Mirror II.

In this volume, editors Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer curate a murderer’s row of alt-comic talent. Anthologies tend to wobble in quality from one story to the next, but the work here bottoms out at vivid and frequently reaches greatness. Empowered to grasp as deeply as they please into the darkest possibilities of their imaginations, these artists merge [Gretchen Alice] Felker-Martin’s ideas of great horror and great porn into a chimera of hideousness so lovingly detailed that it becomes beautiful.


—Interviews & Profiles.
At LARB, Alex Dueben talks to Gabrielle Bell.

When did you say this is a book, and not just a few comics?

I actually can’t quite remember. I mean this is my first full-length book. I’ve tried to do full-length books before and I end up burning out. Like I said, I could spend 10 years on a page so I didn’t really want to turn this into a book, because I didn’t want to fail at that. [Laughs.] I think it was just going to be a small collection of stories, and then when I gathered enough stories, I thought, this could be a book. I’m so cautious now because I failed a lot. [Laughs.] I don’t have that hubris you have when you’re young and think that you can do anything. When I was young I was like, I can write a graphic novel easily! I managed to do some good short stories. Not knowing how to do something sometimes gets you through it. But so does knowing that you don’t know how to do something. I’m aware now of how much I don’t know.

And here’s today not-exactly-comics link, though both interviewer and interviewee are occasionally involved in comics, and several comics creators are mentioned within the interview itself: the great Junot Diáz interviews the even greater Samuel R. Delany.

JD: People have called you a sex radical. What do you suppose they mean? What does it mean to you? Does it come with any political commitments?

SD: Intellectual radicals, rather than actual radicals, are people who say things where they are not usually said. And, yes, all true radicalism has to begin in the body—so being a sex radical means you have to be ready to act radically and be willing to speak about it in places you ordinarily wouldn’t—such as an interview about an activity you might otherwise confine to a journal. That’s how I started—and the world got started around me, as it were, when my mother found my secret writings, took them to my therapist, and they ended up in an article: Kenneth Clarke, who was the head of the Northside Center where I was going for child therapy, quoted them in an article in Harper’s and again in his book, Prejudice and Your Child (1955), and I found myself published because of it. My first professional sale, as it were. I got a lot of attention for it, too. It is the source of most of my “radicalism.”


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