cover image Alison


Lizzy Stewart. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (170p) ISBN 978-1-68396-581-7

Stewart (It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be) paints a profound portrait of domestic life and the 1980s British art scene in this story of an artist named Alison Porter. After her unfulfilling marriage ends, Alison moves to London to be with the much-older Patrick Kerr, a painter on the verge of fame. There, she enters the male-dominated art world and confronts Patrick’s misogynistic behavior (“I liked it better when you were a dumbstruck housewife,” he huffs), as well as the tension between making art and personifying an artist. As she develops her skills and her sense of self through painting, she eventually finds freedom in rejecting both Patrick and traditional ideals of what art should be: “We knew that the world wasn’t really designed for us, and the knowing allowed us to turn it into whatever we wanted.” Stewart examines the nuances of Alison’s life through simply drawn gray-washed vignettes. But color seeps into some sections, and in a breathtaking moment toward the end of the book, Stewart reveals that Alison’s finally able step into herself, alone at age 61, in two pages bursting with color. It’s an unhurried exploration of the sadness, joy, and complexity of everyday life—and how art can help through it all. (July)