cover image A Fire Story

A Fire Story

Brian Fies. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3585-1

“On Monday, my house disappeared,” begins this quietly devastating graphic memoir. In 2017, Fies (Mom’s Cancer) and his wife, Karen, lost their home to the Sonoma County wildfires. Fies posted sketches about their experience online as it happened, then expanded the hastily drawn strips (included at the end of the book) into this measured, well-researched account. Despite the pain he and his wife endure sifting through the ashes, Fies goes light on sentimentality, instead focusing on the realities of surviving the crisis and rebuilding literally from the ground up. Moving beyond his own experience, Fies shares the “fire stories” of other Sonomans, illustrating “the comfort and horror of realizing you’re not alone.” It’s the small details that give the telling weight: the black puddles of liquefied trash cans; the remains of Christmas decorations; how Fies has to tell his car insurer that he no longer has a license plate because the car melted; the search and rescue teams checking bedsprings for human bones. The clean, simple art, tinted in bright spot colors, gives the material breathing room and makes the characters relatable. Without pleading or preaching, this affecting record guides readers through the experience of enormous loss, then out through the other side. [em](Mar.) [/em]