Monday, September 29, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday: Spaniel Rage, by Vanessa Davis

Spaniel Rage, by Vanessa Davis. Published 2005 by Buenaventura Press.

Click here to buy Spaniel Rage from your local IndieBound-affiliated independent bookseller. I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on sales.

Spaniel Rage, by artist and writer Vanessa Davis, is primarily a collection of journal entries created between 2003 and 2004, as Davis navigates life, love, work and family as a single woman in a large city. The comics are drawn in pencil without structured panels, mostly one to a page, in a style that varies from simple and rough sketches to more detailed, accomplished tableaux.

The variations in style are no doubt accounted for by the fact that the comics are for the most part diary entries drawn on a quotidian basis, and there were probably some days when Davis felt like doing more detailed drawings, and days when she had time for simpler depictions. Subject matters and themes range from watching Buffy on TV, cubicle life, friends, boyfriends- the stuff of everyday life. The entries are all dated so the reader can follow along with the push and pull of Davis's life, and her story is real and relatable but also fresh and charming.

I really enjoyed Spaniel Rage. It has an obvious appeal to young women in (or near) the 20-something hipster demographic, but Davis has lots of insights into life that anyone can appreciate. My favorite entry is the one for June 5, 2003; for this day, Davis has drawn a detailed, pretty full-page entry showing herself walking down an attractive tree-lined urban street, sticking her tongue out at a little girl who sticks her tongue out in playful reply. At the bottom is a cramped sketch of two young women exchanging an awkward, joyless greeting of "Hi," "Oh hi, how nice to see you." The caption reads, "Little girls are too cute -- Too bad when girls grow up they often don't greet each other with a big smile and stickin' their tongue out. It gets all different". It's a simple but true statement, built of a bittersweet understanding of how we change as we grow.

There is also a small section at the end of the book comprised of comics that have been published previously, either in zines or on the web. You can find Davis on the internet at as well.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.


Alea said...

I love Spaniel Rage! I like how her comics aren't boxed in by panels. How they flow together. It's good stuff.

Anonymous said...

I bought my first graphic novel - American Born Chinese - this weekend and look forward to reading it.