in comics, food, webcomics

French Milk (and Stop Paying Attention)

I started reading Lucy Knisley‘s Stop Paying Attention webcomic several years ago. It could be insightful and the art was always very well done. A favourite strip of mine is “Being Awkward vs Awkward Situations“.

I hadn’t read any of Lucy’s collected work until last week when I picked up French Milk. It’s an autobiographical account of a visit to Paris, relationships with parents and eating food. Travel and food comics are two of my favourite genres, so I was excited to dive in.

The art didn’t disappoint me. Lucy’s drawings are clear, charming and are superb vehicles for revealing both Paris and the emotional world Lucy inhabited. There was a lot to admire in visual aspects of the work and it was a joy to look at the art throughout the book.

The book is a travel and food memoir, but it is also very clearly concerned with anxieties of growing up and familial relationships. There are many poignant moments and the account seems very honest. As a snapshot of a 22-year-old artist, I think it’s excellent.

A problem I did notice was Lucy’s apparent ignorance of privilege. This may be a reflection of a young artist’s self-absorption, but it was jarring at points to read complaints, celebrations and self-pity over things that would be trivial or extravagant for many, if not most, of us. Reviewers also picked up on this flaw, and I think it’s a valid reason to be hesitant in wholeheartedly recommending the book. I see evidence of growth beyond this in Stop Paying Attention, so I believe Lucy’s incredible talent won’t be dulled by that distraction in the same way again, and I can look past the contracted character to see excellent storytelling.

Lucy’s latest book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was released in April to a lot of praise. Lucy’s website and Tumblr are both full of excellent content.

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