cover image Make Me a Woman

Make Me a Woman

Vanessa Davis, Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-77046-021-8

These beautifully rendered watercolor and pencil collages capture confessional moments from bat mitzvah to the author taking her boyfriend home to West Palm Beach, Fla., to visit her mother. While treading in the autobiographical path of many cartoonists before her, Davis’s sweet and well-observed sketch-diary entries and more structured pieces for such magazines as the Tablet deal with growing up as a Jewish woman. Some time is given to fashion and dating, but the focus is mostly on the daily humor of surviving a boring day job and squabbling family. What sets Davis apart, as least as she portrays herself, is her general sanity and good humor. The problems are more Family Circus than Fun Home: a sisterly blowup comes down to the disposition of a doughnut, and a relationship problem involves several half-eaten packages of cheese. An early strip deals with a trip to a fat farm, but even that ends with remarkably little self-loathing. What this collection does show is Davis’s evolution from sometimes awkward swirls of penciled diary pages to constantly inventive and very accomplished painted art. It’s hard not to find something to identify with or smile at in these pages. (Oct.)