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Best American

January 3, 2011

I have no new comic for you this week, but here is one I drew in 2009 for BookForum, which was lately reprinted in Houghton Mifflin Harcourts Best American Comics 2010.  That was especially an honor for me as it was chosen by guest editor Neil Gaiman, whose work I’ve been reading since I was the teenager depicted in this story.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. coriander permalink
    January 3, 2011 8:44 pm


  2. January 4, 2011 4:53 am

    I love it. Great work!
    I love getting all the comments filled with praise in my e-mail, hoping one is a reply from you.
    Are you doing a nice Toronto appearance any time soon?

    I think my girlfriend might connect to this one, I’ll send it to her!

  3. zhaf permalink
    January 4, 2011 5:31 am

    I wonder about the males in this country when not reading books is a point of pride, mild disdain or lack of concern for children who run away is acceptable, and criticizing your wife in front of your children is somehow okay as a teaching moment. Maybe I’m grinding an axe here, but your father isn’t a very sympathetic character in this comic. Your mother (and her kids by extension) seems like she suffered a lot in an environment without much support. On the other hand, story aside, as a work of art, this comic is very moving for the real-to-life characters and they way they are portrayed visually as well as narratively. Congrats on the honor of being published in Best American Comics for 2009.

    • Katherine permalink
      January 4, 2011 8:27 pm

      That’s a bit sexist of you.

      • Katherine permalink
        January 4, 2011 8:30 pm

        …Not how you feel about her father, but how you make blanket generalizations about the males in this country. Her father may not be a sympathetic character, but it’s wrong to assume that he’s unsympathetic just because he’s male. Just wanted to clarify.

      • zhaf permalink
        January 5, 2011 9:30 am

        Not every critique of behavior, when generally applied to gender (men or women), is necessarily sexist. It is my view that certain men in my country seem to behave as it if it their exclusive privilege to dictate or force their views upon their families rather than engage in an open or emotionally honest dialogue with them.

        I also happen to find the sort of negative male behavior portrayed in this comic very prevalent. Are there exceptions? Of course there are. But if it happens to be true that men, living in a patriarchal society, are consciously and unconsciously trained to expect that it is their exclusive right to “lay down the law,” either as a stern or loving husbands and fathers, is it sexist to call them on it (as a group) when they exhibit that behavior? Certainly not. From a purely logical standpoint, generalizations do not always equal sexism, prejudice, or falsehood. I think we have to be honest about that.

        To clarify myself, I should say that I don’t find the father character unsympathetic “just because he’s male.” Instead, I find him representative of a kind of attitude that is prevalent and widespread among males and not so much among females. There is a distinct difference between the two thoughts.

        By all means, I am not meaning to upset anyone, but I think in order to change the sort of behavior that the “father” character exhibits here, we need to challenge it. To call it out. Name it for what it is. I am positive that their are other valid interpretations that can be made. This one just happens to be mine.

    • gabriellebell permalink
      January 6, 2011 7:40 pm

      Thank you Zhaf

  4. January 4, 2011 9:40 am

    beautiful story! The coloring works out well too.

  5. January 4, 2011 9:02 pm

    I read this in that book just last night, made me realize a bit more of the power of comics, especially the last panel.

  6. Angel permalink
    January 5, 2011 11:36 pm

    This is my favourite story of yours so far. This is just awesome.

    Makes me want to grab a pencil and start writing stories!

  7. Abbey permalink
    January 6, 2011 1:11 pm

    as a mother of 2 young children and like your mother i too am a victim of a good or even mediocre read. that first panel is brilliant yet makes me feel horribly guilty.

    • gabriellebell permalink
      January 6, 2011 7:39 pm

      My mom is why I can do my comics now, and is my biggest influence. It meant more to me than anything else to know she had an inner life of her own, apart from us. It taught me to develop one for myself. Here’s a more realized comic about her:

      • Thomas permalink
        January 11, 2011 1:27 am

        Gabrielle, I read that comic and it blew me away. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. But the part I could relate to most of all were your words in the final panel.
        My parents never taught me to fix a carburetor or play football, how to shave (swear to god), or how to talk to girls, and I ended up being shoved into this world neither a boy or a girl. I’ve had to invent myself while everyone around me seemed to know what they were doing, and in the end, I think they were the best parents ever.

      • Abbey permalink
        January 19, 2011 7:50 pm

        wow. thoughtfully complex would be an understatment. i am going to have to give some thought as to what my daughter might be seeing in me. hmmm….

  8. January 10, 2011 12:39 pm

    …And that’s why I love(d) your books so much…

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