MAKE ME A WOMAN | VANESSA DAVIS | DRAWN & QUARTERLY | 176 PAGES | $24.95 | In Make Me a Woman, Vanessa Davis does what I would have thought impossible: she draws interesting and funny comics about being a young Jewish woman in the big city. I admit, I rolled my eyes at first; I may even have muttered, "God save me from another graphic memoir by a privileged white 20-something." But Davis proceeded to kick my jaded ass down the street.
Make Me a Woman starts with the story of Davis's bat mitzvah (hence the title) and goes from there. Her pencil, ink-wash and watercolor comics frequently spill all over the page, yet they're incredibly easy to follow. The stories they tell aren't epic: a conversation in an elevator, a trip to the spa with mom, an on-and-off affair with an Israeli douchebag. But they're all spot-on, and never take themselves too seriously. Perhaps nothing epic has happened to Davis yet, but she has a lot of fun telling you about that.
THE LITTLE PRINCE | JOANN SFAR | ADAPTED FROM THE NOVEL BY ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY | HMH BOOKS | 112 PAGES | $19.99 | Joann Sfar is, hands down, my favorite cartoonist working right now. Only a few of his many books are available in English, but they'll blow your mind: his art looks as if it's alive and trying to crawl off the page, his characters veering from dot-eyed cartoons in one panel to crosshatched portraits in the next.
So I was thrilled when the estate of Saint-Exupery chose him to adapt this classic. In Sfar's hands, the story is both familiar and unfamiliar. In the book, the pilot-narrator never describes himself, but here appears as a vulnerable version of Saint-Exupery himself. As the desert seethes and boils around the pilot and the little prince, the love story that emerges is just as strange and beautiful as it is in prose.
INBOUND 5 | BOSTON COMICS ROUNDTABLE | 173 PAGES | $12.00 | The Boston Comics Roundtable has released five issues of INBOUND, its anthology of local cartoonists, and each one has gotten better. Number five is a beautiful little digest-size, 174-page book, a little like the old Top Shelf anthologies, and the theme is "food."
Thus, tales of stinky durian fruits, Native American corn myths, and an old man who eats himself down to the boot. Some of the art's a little raw, but most is pretty tight, and the styles range from Chip Kidd-style vector graphics to scratchy crowquill. I love anthologies like this because they remind me, once again, of how many kinds of art comics can encompass — and how much talent there is in the Boston scene.
RASL: POCKET BOOK ONE | JEFF SMITH | CARTOON BOOKS | 232 PAGES | $17.95 | Jeff Smith's first comic-book epic, Bone, was probably the hugest thing in the comics world for a while. A kid-friendly fantasy adventure, it was hailed as proof of what comics could accomplish in the hands of a master.