One of the things I recall fondly from my childhood was playing video games with my parents. It has permeated our lives together for as long as I can remember. They had been playing video games long before they had me and they used me as an excuse to keep playing. There’s this photo of me and my dad playing the NES with a homemade robot costume made of cardboard boxes. You can’t see the television, but I think we were playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game that was nearly impossible to beat. When I was older, my mother fell in love with Mario Kart 64. She wanted to play after dinner nearly every day, she loved the rainbow road and moo moo farm tracks.
The premise of Carta Monir latest comic Lara Croft Was My Family, explores her relationship with her family and the place of video games in that dynamic. We witness how that relationship evolves from her naive childhood as her mother and brother would gather around to watch their father play Tomb Raider. It was an event to see their father play and complete the game, it was just as engaging to watch as it was to play. We get to witness how this evolved over time how her family gatherings transformed into a much less familial event. There’s this tension between the controlling nature of her father, and the control he exerts over the Lara Croft as an avatar and the rest of the family. Through Carta’s adult eyes, we begin to understand that tension, how he was . She is able to reevaluate her relationship with her father and gain better insight into her past. Ultimately, it’s a comic about, understanding trauma. She doesn’t try to overcome it, but rather to gain insight into her childhood.
One of Monir’s best attribute as a comic artist might very well be the way she’s able to balance melancholic stories with a lighter aesthetic. This allows her story to land emotional punches really well. Her story revolves around understanding a specific and troubling aspect of her family life, yet her work is sparse, with light touches of purple for colours and single panels with just a few words. Her stories are heart-wrenching tragedies about identity, family, and emotional devastation and Lara Croft Was My Family manages to blend everything perfectly.
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.