Minicomics by Eleanor Davis

Libby’s Dad by Eleanor Davis. Retrofit / Big Planet Comics, 2016. 9781940398525. ~32pp.

Frontier #11: Eleanor Davis, BDSM by Eleanor Davis. Youth In Decline, 2016. (No ISBN)  32pp.

Gene: Here are two mini-comics by Eleanor Davis, and I’m so pleased to say that one of them is available at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park (just north of Seattle), which suddenly has a nice little mini-comics section. I’m so happy to see they have that! That will keep me going back there and I’ll buy lots of books.
Sarah: I’ll make a trip there. I used to only be able to get that kind of stuff at specialty shops or downtown.
G: Zanadu Comics in downtown Seattle had some, but it just closed down. And Elliot Bay Books has a very small selection, but they’re mostly ‘zines.
This is Libby’s Dad.
S: I love Davis’ colors, I love her shapes.
G: It is the best. This comic is from Retrofit, which is cartoonist Box Brown’s publishing company. He publishes small comics, some of which are perfect bound, though others, like this one, is stapled. This looks like it’s drawn in crayon or colored pencil. It’s about five girls having a pool party at Libby’s house. Her mom and dad are divorced.
S: Look at that!
G: All the girls are very different: Libby, Emma, Mun-Hee, Hailey, and the narrator (“and Taylor, usually, but this time Taylor didn’t come.”) They talk about her. Libby says she did invite her. Mun-Hee: “No, Libby, you invited our friend Taylor. Not the weird Taylor who, like, replaced her.”
S&G: (both laugh)
S: I have to say, people will talk about needing diverse voices, and it’s a great sentiment, but then you actually pick up something like this and it’s like oh my god this is f’ing perfect! This is not the voice of anyone else. Diversity isn’t just good for the world, you’ll find some amazing work.
G: I love how loose and natural the whole thing feels. The drawings seem to have flowed out of Davis. They’re cartoony enough not to be anatomically correct, but they give a great sense of character and how a person moves and holds themself. And they’re just all colors. It looks like the word balloons are all pencils. It feels temporary, quick, like this came right out of her head. And look at that drawing of Hailey half in a pool with her hair floating.
So Libby’s mom told everyone that her dad said he was going to shoot her, and that’s part of the plot. The girls hang out, it’s night, the pool is kind of glowing. In the sleepover room they’re talking, and then they spill nail polish. And they’re terrified of telling Libby’s dad, all they can think of is the gun. There’s a representation of the gun in their thoughts, done in negative space because the girls are trying not to think about it, and it’s the most amazing page in a short comic full of amazing pages, as the girls freak out.

S: It’s gorgeous.
G: People ask me why I spend $8 on a book like this. It should be a $20 picture book, so I feel like it’s cheap. Plus there really are no picture books for teens or adults like us.

G: The next one is Eleanor Davis’ issue of a mini-comics periodical called Frontier. Every issue is by a different person. I’ve never seen another issue, so I’m not sure if they’re all one story like this one or if some have multiple stories or what.
You’re always talking about the lack of arts funding in the US, so you’ll be happy to know she drew this when she was hosted as a cartoonist in residence in 2015 at the Columbus Museum of Art, The Thurber House, and by Jeff Sims.
This is very different from the other book, Sarah. It’s a story that starts on a BDSM porn set, the art is all black and white, the movie about Victoria (the dom) and Lexa (the submissive) is being made by a crew of men. The porny bit isn’t too explicit (though it is), and after creating a bit of movie magic they’re all having a cigarette out back.
Victoria: “If I smack Lexa any harder I’m going to have to ice my hand.”
S: (reading) “Being a dom is hard work, guys.”
G: Lexa brings everyone coffee. Victoria is pissed off that she’s so into being subservient — she even cleans spilled coffee from a dude’s Timberlands.
S: Victoria is really mad.
G: And then there’s another racy scene where she spits in Lexa’s face.
S: The reverse angle where we see the crew from her perspective! So good.
G: One of the guys is wearing a Transformers T-shirt, another has a dreamcatcher tattoo. (We laugh again.) Details like that make a book. Then Victoria has an ice pack on her hand. And that’s not the end of the story…
Weird, right? Who’s right? She’s pissed. She’s hitting the other woman. Is that okay, even though she wants it? Does she really want it? Do we as observers even have the right to ask those questions?
S: Lots of layers. It’s really good.
G: So this goes up on the top shelf in the house, where folks casually browsing my collection aren’t likely to find it by accident.
I didn’t know what these were about, but I found and ordered them online because I liked Davis’ book on bicycling and her book How to Be Happy so much.

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