Struggling artists of all types (and those who love them) will find a kindred spirit in this graphic diarist/memoirist.
Nothing all that momentous happens in the comics of Bell (When I’m Old and Other Stories, 2005), but her accounts of the frustrations of finding apartments, dealing with roommates and supporting herself with odd jobs (from nude modeling to assisting a more commercially successful artist, who takes credit for some of Bell’s work) ring engagingly true. There’s a childlike innocence to her drawings that complements the confessional intimacy of her work. The first and longest section takes the form of a six-week journal, mainly a six-panel strip per day. It shows Bell and her boyfriend, Tom, attempting to find apartments and suitable roommates for each other (cohabitation apparently doesn’t strike either of them as a good idea) and encountering a menagerie of humanity in the process. It seems the best way to make a roommate situation work is to communicate by Post-it notes and only be there when the other isn’t. The saddest story concerns the loss of her sketchbook (a month’s worth of work and the second issue of Lucky) in a rush to catch an airplane. The funniest episode finds Bell teaching drawing to a couple of French boys, whose major interest lies in drawing comics with vulgarities and obscenities. The last and shortest entry takes a turn toward the surreal, as a hole in the bathroom wall exacerbates conflicts between a couple, until the man crawls into the hole, never to return.
These slice-of-life, matter-of-fact (and occasionally fantasy) strips sustain a wry, bittersweet humor and disarming warmth.