Graphic Novels from Vanessa Davis and Hashtag Love Is Love | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 13, 2017

Davis, Vanessa. Spaniel Rage. Drawn & Quarterly. Feb. 2017. 120p. ISBN 9781770462564. pap. $16.95. MEMOIR
Drawn & Quarterly’s loving reissue of Davis’s personal works from the early 20th century documents a mostly free-flowing diary of a moderately bohemian lifestyle in 2003 New York City. Davis sits around in her underwear, goes to the movies, mopes about dudes, and sings to herself while walking down the sidewalk, among other more and less intense pursuits. Although far less disciplined than cartoon diarists such as Gabrielle Bell and John Porcellino, she, like them, shares snapshots of her life that feel both utterly familiar and totally weird. Her slightly lumpy, scribbly penciling style and panel-free pages further add to the casual touch. Her ugly-cute approach to storytelling and illustration seems portentous of the coming era of the TV series Girls and Broad City, in which every quirky aspect of a young woman’s experience is up for observation, celebration, and self-reflection.
Verdict Spaniel Rage is a pleasant delve into young life in the city and interesting to read as motivation for a new generation of artists who look to women like Davis and her contemporaries for inspiration, but the work itself delivers a slightly aimless, loosely collected read.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

Love Is Love. IDW/DC. Dec. 2016. 144p. ed. by Sarah Gaydos & Jamie S. Rich. ISBN 9781631409394. pap. $9.99. ANTHOLOGIES
loveisloveAmid the tsunami of outrage triggered by the Orlando, FL, Pulse nightclub shooting last June, writer Marc Andreyko (DC Comics) set out to curate a comics anthology to benefit victims, survivors, and their families. Responses poured in within hours of his call for contributions, yielding this beautiful and touching volume named after a popular Twitter hashtag. Copublished by DC and IDW, some 120-plus short selections represent more than 200 creators, from artist Jim Lee’s rendering of Harry Potter characters flying the rainbow flag (requested by J.K. Rowling herself) to work from Brian Michael Bendis, Gail Simone, and Dan Parent. Personal reactions to the terrible news, vignettes about victims, and stories of love overcoming hate all appear. Cameos from well-known characters pop up throughout, including DC’s Apollo and Midnighter, Batwoman, Superman, and The Spirit, as well as additional gay comics notables: Kevin Keller (Archie Comics), Wuvable Oaf (Fantagraphics), and syndicated strip characters from Paige Braddock’s Jane’s World, Jeff Krell’s Jayson, and Greg Fox’s Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast. Sale proceeds will go to Equality Florida, which is handling distribution.
Verdict A model of how art becomes therapeutic after tragedy, this uplifting collection resurrects hope and love in heartfelt messages for older teens and adults.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia