all books written in graphic form are geared to a young audience or
involve characters with superpowers. Over the years, I've read and
enjoyed several graphic memoirs, so when I came across Jennifer Hayden's
Underwire at my library, I thought I'd give it a try.
Underwire is a collection of thirty short autobiographical stories written in comic-strip form. Many of the pieces first appeared as part of Hayden's involvement with the ACT-I-VATE collective, which is a Brooklyn-based group of graphic artist and writers. Since the publication of Underwire, she's been working on other webcomics and a graphic memoir about her experiences with breast cancer.
- What are the stories about? Hayden writes about everyday life: being a woman, a mother, and a wife; about marriage, family, and friendship. Sometimes Hayden tells us about life before kids or shares a dream or nightmare she's had. Don't expect crazy dysfunction; Hayden seems to have a decent marriage and a normal relationship with her kids. Do expect to nod in agreement and laugh along with her as she muddles her way through her many roles.
- Stories I liked: My two favorites were a one-page story about Hayden and her husband celebrating their wedding anniversary and a longer story about when Hayden and her husband visit their alma mater, kids in tow.
- General thoughts: As in any collection, there are stronger stories and weaker stories. I didn't love every piece in Underwire, but I did come away with an overall positive feeling, and Hayden had me chuckling or laughing in several places. The book may have a more direct appeal to baby boomers than to younger woman, but most adults will readily relate.
- The artwork: The scan (click to enlarge) is from the first page of the book and gives you a good idea of Hayden's style and the general tone of the book. Hayden is quite good at conveying facial expressions and action, and I like her asides and footnotes. All the panels are done in pen and black ink.
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
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