"The Lettuce Girl, Volume 3" by Sophia Wiedeman
Brooklyn-based cartoonist Sophia Wiedeman recently released the third volume in her ongoing self-published fairy tale turned on its head, "The Lettuce Girl," and proves she is someone to watch.
The story focuses on Hazel, with her lengthy hair and solitary existence in a tower -- Wiedeman's reimagining of Rapunzel. The only person Hazel has any contact with is her "mother," the archetypal evil witch of Grimm tales, who visits her mostly to lay guilt trips on her about their relationship.
The problem is that Hazel isn't her daughter -- she's her hostage, as are so many children in old fairy tales. There's really only so far either can go emotionally, though victims can feel guilt in regard to their abductors. The witch's solution is to grow a magic replacement, though her other witch friend has warned her of the fruitlessness of such a move based on the past.
And Hazel's plan? That's more complicated, a mix of managing the guilt she's been handed by her captor and just out and out fleeing her situation. But has her captivity made her vulnerable in a way that she can't solve her problems?
Weideman's personable art undercuts the darkness of the story and gives it a sweet quality despite the undertones. By pulling from old fairy tales as an examination of need, victimhood, captivity and even parent-child relationships, shows she's prepared to cut to the psyche of what made these old tales so magnetic, pulling them into a modern presentation while still preserving the fears and dread that are integral to their power.
Purchase Wiedeman's books at sophiadraws.com.
"You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack" by Tom Gauld (Drawn and Quarterly)
Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld's work is seen in our country and, for the last eight years, on a weekly basis in the Guardian's Saturday review section. He made a big splash last year with his brilliant graphic novel "Goliath," which recast the Bible myth from the giant's point of view and added sympathy and insight to his situation.
This new book collects Gauld's newspaper work and captures the multi-faceted mind behind the drawings. With a sense of humor that is sometimes erudite and other times silly -- in a good way -- Gauld's interest focuses largely on the literary, particularly the classic canon, but also poking fun at genre cliches, while at the same time pitting pulp tropes up against "serious fiction" in order to take down the snobbery. The title of the book directly references this sentiment, the idea that genre fiction might be silly sometimes because of its props and even predictable, but you can't beat fun.
And Gauld's work isn't all paneled cartoons. He also offers maps -- such as the hilarious "The Street Tome Waits Grew Up On" -- charts, fake game screens and even diagrams, both color-coded and ven, as well as other usable keys. There's also the plainly incomprehensible, as with his lovely "The Reason I Ws Late Explained In a Diagram."
The next time you pass around another predictable gag from The Oatmeal, keep Tom Gauld in mind for further cartoon exploration. Intelligent, insightful, he doesn't create cartoons of information you already know -- and he doesn't cover ground that everyone else does.