cover image An Age of License

An Age of License

Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics, $19.99 ISBN 978-1-60699-768-0

Knisley (French Milk, Relish) continues to own the travelogue/graphic novel genre by bringing her characteristic humor and heart to this memoir of a summer in Europe. Created during a journey from a comics convention in Norway to the vineyards of Burgundy and a lover’s loft in Montmartre, the in-process method of writing and drawing her adventures as they happen gives a vibrant immediacy to situations and sensations. Belying her relatively simple but charming cartooning style, Knisley pages are a cornucopia of information and detail: oversized seagulls, bilingual schoolchildren, and lying sat-navs populate her travels. Her observations are frequently laugh-out-loud funny (for instance, on her new Swedish boyfriend: “They should sell these at Ikea!”). It’s easy to excuse a temporary lapse in keeping up her illustrated journal when she falls in love—a sequence evocatively drawn with much emotional impact. Knisley’s already established passion for foreign foods is highlighted: Norwegian pastries, mustard in a tube, the French milk of her previous memoir, and that punch line to so many Scandinavian jokes, lutefisk. The title comes from the French l’age licence—the freedom to explore, experiment, and feel joy, all feelings beautifully captured here. (Sept.)