Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm glad I gave it 24 hours.

Lucky by Gabrielle Bell

It’s amazing what 24 hours can do to your perception. When I first picked up this book I couldn’t stand it and was ready to simply bring it back to the library. I felt it was yet another exceptionally dull diary comic about someone documenting their rather mundane life. A day later I picked it up again to see if maybe I was just missing the point and with a better day behind me, I can say that I actually enjoyed this book.

What felt like just scribbled art and dull episodic storytelling turned into a fascinating examination of a somewhat transient lifestyle. I think, maybe, it hit a bit too close to home for me to fully appreciate the book on my first day. I too had gone through the horrors of apartment hunting and trying to come to terms with a career that reading about someone aiming for the same thing just felt whiny to me. But as I got to know the characters I could appreciate what they were doing and how they were trying to both find their places and define themselves by and with those places.

In the end what I read was great comics. The figures have an ease about them that is both insecure and charming. The linework shows characters that are just on the verge of becoming incredible – they are infused with the potential for more but seem trapped in the beginning stages at present. Then as you read the additional volumes the characters do get improved as much as the stories do. The people grow with the art.

I probably would have loved this book a lot more if I came across it at the end of high-school or in my first few years at university. It just doesn’t seem so fascinating or original to me now because I’ve had to deal with those problems and I want to read about things I’m not totally familiar with. But I know comics aren’t just about bulletproof underwear fetishists so I try to get out of my superhero comfort zone every now and again, and as I was this time, I get pleasantly surprised.

You get to be a fly on the wall for a day in the life of a regular person. You’ll either find beauty or familiarity in it but it’s as much about you as it is the subject here. This is a comic that allows the reader to give it more meaning than the text itself contains but I do think it is a book about potential. It is about characters and people who are on the verge of becoming more defined, and you’ll either appreciate it, be able to reflect back on it, or like me (at first) just be annoyed by it because it’s sort of just what your life is and you don’t really need to spend time reading about people you don’t know going through similar regular life ordeals because you and your friends are doing that already.

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