Gabrielle Bell is one of our most acclaimed cartoonists – an intimate diarist whose comics never fails to connect with her readers. Everything is Flammable, (Uncivilized, 2017) – her memoir comic about helping her mother get through a devastating fire, and the light it cast on their difficult relationship – won awards and was hailed as her best book yet. It was the latest in a series of graphic novels – many autobiographical – that cast a light on modern life in all its anxious, confusing complexity. The tight grid format and dense inky style of her art are the perfect format for these tales – boxed in Rorschach test snapshots of her emotional life.
For years Bell has been drawing a diary comic a day in July. This year she’s broken that tradition a bit: instead of a comic a day she’s lived her life. She’s also switched to drawing with her left hand to rest up an RSI in her right…. and while a bit wobbly, her left handed cartooning is just as nuanced and engaging.
In these comics, Gabrielle Bell returns to northern California where her mother lives in a wilderness setting. There’s a lot of drama involving animals, including a bear, and as I write, a cliffhanger involving Jojo, a newly adopted mutt who just won’t come in from the dark.
You can read all of the comics on Bell’s website (start here and go forward) but she’s also been posting them on Instagram, and I think that’s an even better way to read the comics, especially on mobile.
A few more teaser pages – Bell’s growing confidence in her left handed style is amazing!