We are many things here at Okazu. We focus on lesbian-themed works, but are queer, female and minority creator – friendly. There are a lot of good works that we look at that don’t fit snugly into the “lesbian” category. However, that doesn’t mean that I am without bias. I’m human…of course I have some bias. ^_^ There is one critical and important facet of female existence that I basically ignore completely – motherhood. There is no good reason for this lacuna, except my complete, total and utter disinterest in stories of motherhood.
Today, we’re going to work outside my comfort zone and talk about a unremittingly middle-aged comic by a white, straight, American mother. Jennifer Hayden‘s Underwire is published by Top Shelf, and is a collection of her comix about life. Her straight woman’s perspective is, to me, as nearly alien as anything wholly fictional, so when I say to you with all honestly that I loved this book, trust me, it’s as big a surprise to me as it might be to you. ^_^
To clarify, I know Jennifer and like her loads, and love talking with her, but still, our life experiences are vastly different. I knew I’d like her comics, as I’ve been reading her comic blog, Rushes, since we met several years ago. But, this book was so deeply rooted in her life as a mother, the wonder with which she watched her children becoming people and the connections she was making between her past and their future – things I know I will never experience – that it held an almost fantasy-element for me. “OH, so that’s what it’s like when you suddenly look at your baby and see the adult they will become.”
The art is as unlike manga at as possible. Everything – backgrounds, textures, shading, is all done with pen, by the author. There’s no team of assistants here, no house style. I found it to be very American and very comix. ^_^
My summation of Underwire is this: After reading a number of for-adults-but-rather-infantile comics (I’m looking at you, Rokujo Hitoma no Nekogami-sama,) Jennifer Hayden’s Underwire is almost breath-robbingly adult. Women who read comics, you should read this one. It’s for grown ups.
Art – 9 Skilled comix will always have a place on my shelves
Story – 8 Extremely personal, but more random thoughts than memoir
Characters – Real people that I’m glad to lunch with
Overall – 9