Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Minis: By Mom, By Me

By Mom, By Me Volume 2: Tales From Our Early Twenties has an absolutely ingenious central conceit: artist Rachel Scheer adapts an autobiographical vignette from her mother Karen and then does a story of her own based on the same topic. For example, the mini begins with the topic "My First Apartment After College." For Karen, that was in Atlanta in 1973, and there were all sorts of interesting events that happened around getting that apartment. When she and her friend arrived, they went over to the offices of the local underground newspaper for advice and got a place in a drug-riddled area. Rachel then followed up with her own story in 2006 near Washington, D.C.

Each vignette is two pages, four panels per page. Scheer is clearly still finding her footing as an artist, as some of the drawings in the panels looked a bit clunky. It's not unusual for a young artist when they're trying to find the happy medium between naturalism and their own style. That said, Scheer is an excellent storyteller and knows how to create a striking image. She favors a single image that works in tandem with the text over traditional panel-to-panel transitions, and it's a technique that successfully gets across a great deal of information in a small amount of space.

Other topics include "traveling in college" and "something I'll never do again." For Karen, it was hitchhiking. For Rachel, it was smoking pot at Rehobeth Beach. There's a wonderful sense of connection between mother and daughter, as both clearly had a lot of freedom to make their own choices. It is subtly implied that this freedom is part of what bonds her to this mother. That's not just because of the collaboration (although that's part of it), but it's hinted in other ways, like when Rachel mentions moving back in with her mom after college for a while. This is a relatively brief mini, but I could have read a book full of these gentle, funny stories.

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