Comic book, 2006

As a new fan of Gabrielle Bell’s superior newer work I was a little underwhelmed by the material presented here which, was originally created in 2003. But it’s still impossible to put down, presenting bite-sized chunks of Bell’s daily life in a straightforward matter-of-fact way, the “just one more” factor hits hard. And while individual strips might not seem to mean a whole lot, after a while you start to become soothed by Bell’s ability to remain herself despite the challenges presented by her artist’s lifestyle. 3.5


Comic book, 2009

Boy. If ever a cover gave you a poor sense of what a book was like, that book is Stitches. A quick flip through won’t do you much good either. The illustration style is light and airy. It almost feels like a sketchbook, with it’s low level of detail and large amounts of white space. It isn’t until you get 100 or so pages in that you find out that this is a tight fucking book. That every look on every character’s angry, frustrated face contains the entire novel within it. It’s the story of a fourteen year-old boy who isn’t told that he has cancer, even after he loses his voice to it. So yeah, get ready to feel shitty. And it’s autobiographical, in case you weren’t getting punched hard enough. But it feels… okay. The story is told from a calm and rational place. It almost feels clinical, but by the time you get to the end you realize that the disposition is saying “It’s okay. These are the things that happened. It was tough, but I’m okay now.” It’s hard to believe that the author was able to come to terms with growing up in a household that was so repressed that they didn’t even tell their own son he had cancer, but by the end of the 300 plus pages of the book you’ve seen it clear as day. 4