This book is quite straightforward about the contents including dog deaths, and I thought I was okay enough to read through all that, given that it’s been over a month since my own brave little Carl passed away. But the combination of Nicole J. Georges’ emotive storytelling and my own fresher-than-I-thought grief conspired to have me sobbing through the entire sections dealing with the deaths of her dogs, one so rapidly following on the other.
Even with that devastating experience aside, I found myself incredibly engaged with this collection of confessional comics and zines. Ms Georges writes in a way that makes me feel invested in her on-going endeavors, whether in the oblique references to her love and family lives, her careers in both cartoons and teaching, or just in her everyday concerns with her emotional and physical fitness. Perhaps it’s her disarming honesty that has me feeling so sympathetic to a life quite different from my own (or at least my own as it is now.) Reading her book felt almost like being entrusted with her diary. And I do mean that literally: it felt like I was being bestowed a gift, of trust, of confidence, of friendship at a remove, with this book.
So it was nice to settle in and read what felt like letters written to me from a friend, catching me up on her latest goings-on. Well, “latest”. These comics run from the first decade of the 2000s to the present day, tho the Invincible Summer zine projects span the decade from 2008-2018. It would probably help to already be familiar with Ms Georges’ work before diving in, but I had no difficulty losing myself in her stream of consciousness, as if we were old friends catching up again after being apart for a long while. To be clear: I don’t feel like I actually know her. I’m just grateful to have been given a chance to know these snapshots of her at those particular points in time.
I was also inspired by so much of what she wrote! From her encouragement to create your own comics to her well-thought-out advocacy for physical movement and exercise, I gained a deeper appreciation for both, and think that perhaps I could be more creative and physically active, too. I could also be interested in more vegan food (tho I sincerely hope for her sake that she was eating vegan kimchi and not just the regular, traditional stuff, which is seafood-based despite looking entirely vegetarian.)
I haven’t yet had a chance to read Ms Georges’ full length graphic novels, so can’t say what the art is like in those. Her sketches here — tho lively and often adorable — tend towards the quick and dirty, rendered in black ink/pencil on white paper. This lends itself well both to the confessional vibe and to the encouragement she gives for readers to just put pen to paper and get started. The most important thing is to speak your truth (tho if you need guidance along the way Ms Georges also runs courses on writing diary comics and has a Patreon.)
Autobiographical collections like this can often be tough for me to get into because their authors are often just too temperamentally different from myself (which is my polite way of saying that their self-absorption holds little interest for me.) But Ms Georges isn’t talking about herself because she has nothing else to say. Her life is deeply interesting, in large part because she is interested in other people. I greatly appreciated her empathy and kindness, as well as her eye for detail and humor, even at her own expense. Even tho she and I don’t actually know one another, this collection is going to take pride of place on my graphic novels shelf, as meaningful to me as a collection of letters from a real, dear friend.
Dog’s Breakfast by Nicole J Georges was published September 1 2023 by Phase Eight Publishing and is available from all good booksellers, including