Posts Tagged ‘Emily Flake’

Lulu Eightball. Published 2005 by Atomic Book Company. ISBN 078-0978656904
Lulu Eightball, Volume 2. Published 2009 by Atomic Book Company. ISBN 978-0-9786569-5-9

Atomic Book Company: https://atomicbooks.com

Readers of the New Yorker, connoisseurs of the comics section, will recognise the work of Emily Flake. It is oddball comedy, gently digging the ribs, squeezing the squeaky balloon, of contemporary attitudes and practices.

http://www.emilyflake.com

Well, these volumes of Lulu Eightball are the ones the papers never saw: these are comics and cartoons of a distinctly other order.
Her format tends to be a page size square that contains four cartoons, not always part of a sequence, but that connect by subject: four takes, if you like. They can be four stand along cartoons, or two sequences, or… you get the idea.

Oh, but is the work of a sharp and witty observer/liver of the modern comedy of Western life!
And she is gender-fair: her women can be as monstrous as her men, and men gentler than her women.
This in itself is quite a feat in the toxic world she is working in: women cartoonists fight long and hard for the breaks that males take for granted.

This is the American world from a woman’s perspective. Not always successful, not always ‘with it’, not always clued-in; Lulu Eightball is a  loveable ogre.

The emotional range is set within limits: dipsy, cutesy-sharp, smart, to downright snarling. Is this the ‘nasty’ girl of Trump (you can just imagine him using this technique with his ‘conquests’, with his daughter, even. It has that sort of trued-and-tested wear to it)? No, that is far too creepy.
Lulu Eightball has moments of frustrated, almost despairing crankiness – something conveyed for all readers to recognise, and own.
But she never goes into psycho-land, from where there is no return.

In her more recent work, say, Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting (2015) she explores the female world od parenting more thoroughly.
This is a book for all new parents: there are sooo many parenting books, but this one pulls no punches, applies no tippex, and yet makes you feel recognised, on safe ground.

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Sometimes something catches you, and you read on.
For me it was The Heartbreak of Fireflies, from Volume Two. The first cartoon has two bugs making snarky comments as a firefly walks by: Hey sparkle bottom. My cigarette’s gone out. Then she takes it further, with a note how the firefly is trying desperately not to let his light blink.
And the next cartoon in the frame has a firefly encounter fairy lights. Why would anyone put up strings of false women? Is – is it some kind of joke?