Thursday
Dec092010

It's up to you

Man, I love New York!

Make Me a Woman was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review last Sunday. That was very exciting!

If you're not an elite free member of nytimes dot com, here's the excerpt:

The same delight in drawing comes through in Vanessa Davis’s MAKE ME A WOMAN (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95), which otherwise couldn’t be more different from Cooke’s work: it’s proudly girly, chatty and frequently hilarious. Davis’s subjects are herself, her friends and the small pleasures and occasional irritations of her day-to-day existence. (On having her wisdom teeth removed: “I loved the whole experience. It was weird and fascinating and gross.”) Her artwork is doodly and gestural; she doesn’t bother much with panel borders, and her characters look as if they’ve been molded from careful observation, then squished flat onto the page.

“Make Me a Woman” collects Davis’s comics from the past six years, including a multitude of three-page strips — all tangentially about her relationship with Jewish culture — that initially appeared in the online magazine Tablet. Those more finished pieces have fleshed-out narratives and layered, glowing color, but her loosely sketched one-pagers on everyday life (some with half-erasures and false starts left intact) are even more winning. In one episode, Davis fumes at her mother’s suggestions that she should “develop past diary comics” and that “the goal is to get into fiction at some point.” Of course it’s not: the goal, as with the cartoonists of Joyce Farmer’s generation, is to make a new kind of comic out of experiences that never seemed like the stuff of art before.

Douglas Wolk is the author of “Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean.” He writes frequently about comics for The Times.

So great! And in the hard copy version, there was a LARGE and in-charge image from "Fancy Fourth":

One other thing that's great about this is that when I had just finished this story, I spilled almost an entire bottle of Ph. Martin's pink watercolor paint all across the top of this page.

Another nice thing about New York was the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival! Holy crap, how sweet and good was this event? I loved being in the church gym with so many comics buddies and celebs. And then in the lunch line in the cafeteria with Anders Nilsen. I pretended he was my study buddy. So fun! And then the next day, they hosted a free event where Mark Newgarden screened all of his old comics-related movies. Those were weird and great. La di da! Here are some pics I nabbed from people on the internet.

The formidable crowd (I got this from MTV.com, I think)

Me and Robbie Guertin (I got this from Jungyeon Roh, my new friend!)

Me signin' Julia Rothman's book!

Me n' LYNDA!

New York!

Wednesday
Dec012010

Briney Breezes

  

 

Hi! I'm in Florida. Here's Trevor sipping a cafe con leche and contemplating the Atlantic Ocean in South Beach, Miami.

I came down here to present Make Me a Woman at the Miami Book Fair International, on Nov. 21. The particularly amazing aspect of this event was, for me, sharing the presentation and signing with the vibrant, awe-inspiring Lynda Barry.

  
This was a pretty insane event for me. (The good kind of insane.) I read a few stories from my book and Lynda presented her new book, Picture This: The Nearsighted Monkey Book.

Since then, I have been spending time with my mom, and mooning over the soft sunny South Florida weather.

In the meantime, I am really happy to read these recent reviews of Make Me a Woman:

NPR

The Comics Journal

Worcester Magazine

KQED

And this one's not online [Oops, now it is--ed.], but you'll just have to trust me that this appeared in the LA Times last Sunday, Nov.28:

by Deborah Vankin
Los Angeles Times

In "Make Me a Woman," Vanessa Davis lays it all out there -- Fat Camp, phone sex, late-night binging, even mustache bleaching. Her second book, in what's still a relatively young career that also includes columns for Tablet Magazine, collects the rambling, neurotic and admirably honest diary comics she drew throughout her 20s, from 2004 to the present.

The book, out recently from Drawn & Quarterly, stitches together a pastiche of styles: loose, deeply personal pencil sketches, richly colored narrative comics, and full-page, color self-portraits showcasing a spectrum of moods, outfits and haircuts. Plus random drawings that were "just hanging out in my sketchbook," she says. From the adolescent bat mitzvah circuit of her youth in Florida to the first loves and first jobs that come later in New York, it's a comedic coming-of-age chronicle.

"The themes are friendship, the yearning for connection, confidence and sense of self, growing up," she says.

Early on, Davis, who now lives in Northern California, was drawn to the work of Debbie Drechsler and Aline Kominsky Crumb. "[They] made the biggest formal influence on me because they drew kind of how I like to draw -- cartoony. When I started drawing comics, I was both incorporating and battling their influences," she says.

Being Jewish also factors heavily in the book -- her free-spirited, Reform mom is a central recurring character -- though Davis says writing about religion was unintentional. "I never intended on writing about Judaism in my comics. I grew up with a lot of Jewish influences, so I didn't think it was interesting. I took it for granted." Instead, she came to cartooning with a devotion to documentation and autobiographical painting and drawing. "Art has always been my real religion," she says.

This coming weekend, due to a last minute change of plans, I'll be up at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. I'll be at the Drawn+Quarterly booth!

Monday
Nov082010

Book By Its Cover

I love Julia Rothman and her illustration and design and textiles. Lucky for me she liked my book and posted this amazing profile with lots of pictures and a long, great interview that I got all into answering in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep from excitement over the questions. Some of my favorite parts were when she asked me about being a "good Jew" and when I shamelessly put out the call for designers to call on me for collaboration on utilitarian crafts!

Thursday
Nov042010

Twice as Vice

From Vice:

 


#2
Make Me a Woman
Vanessa Davis 
Drawn & Quarterly

Vanessa Davis’s drawings have a softness to them that feels like sympathetic memories. Maybe I’m off here, but it feels like she views the world in a forgiving way, whether she’s showing us the time when everyone was having bat mitzvahs or some Israeli dude was treating her poorly. Everyone is a lovable goofball. There’s a particularly good comic in here about going to the sex store with Karen of M[r]eh fame and being observed by a Hassidic man. It’s odd when you run into Hassidic men in places like that. I remember seeing a few at that goth/fetish party they used to have at Siberia. I also remember seeing a couple at a Death in June show on a Sunday morning at the Pyramid Club a few years back. Maybe they were just Orthodox.  

Anywayahs, as you may have cottoned, there’s a whole load of stories in this book relating to Jewishness.  I especially like one strip where she describes how great Purim is to her boyfriend while he turns up his nose at the concept of “gross Jewish food.”  Later he is giggling while reading  a biography of Hitler before bed.

--Nick Gazin

Monday
Nov012010

Tropical Tidings

From The Miami Herald:

Make Me a Woman. Vanessa Davis. Drawn & Quarterly. 176 pages. $24.95.

Davis grew up in South Florida and returns often to visit family. This wonderful collection of disparate slices of her life conveys humor, intelligence and great heart. She's a terrific and entertaining artist, too, and her penciled work is almost as rich as her beautiful color art. Autobiographical strips may be commonplace, but as Julia Wertz did in Drinking at the Movies, Davis reveals her life without fear or self-aggrandizement, and her strength, humor and vulnerability seep through every page. Much of the art herein originally appeared in Tablet (tabletmag.com), an online Jewish cultural magazine, and Davis' Judaism unambiguously informs her work in surprising and amusing ways.

--Richard Pachter