cover image Red Rock Baby Candy

Red Rock Baby Candy

Shira Spector. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (216p) ISBN 978-1-68396-404-9

Using lithesome, intricate drawings and mixed-media collages, Spector debuts with a graphic memoir of desire and loss that expresses emotions viscerally and with a tactile immediacy. During her yearslong attempt to carry to term a second child (her partner Chris carried their first), Spector loses multiple pregnancies. And then she loses her father to brain cancer. “Rebel cells,” she observes. “It never eludes me that this is also how life begins.” She plays repeatedly on inversions—life and death, but also light and darkness, beauty and blood. The styles Spector blends together are as wide-ranging as the roller coaster of hope and grief she rides: riffs on playground rhymes, words strewn about the page, fashion drawings, black-and-white panels, and explosions of color. When Spector and Chris stop trying for another baby, it’s another kind of death, but they lean into other, arguably queerer forms of making life. “Now I pray to the queens of the defunct and the defective,” she writes. This sentiment is what makes her proposal and marriage to Chris after so many years together more poignant, as it’s not naively hopeful, but rather a clear-eyed mandate to “hold open your ordinary arms” and embrace life in all its complexity. This impressive work is both gorgeous and sad, veering into the poetry and processing of grief, with stunning breadth (Mar.)