cover image A Child's Life: And Other Stories

A Child's Life: And Other Stories

Phoebe Gloeckner. Frog, $17.95 (143pp) ISBN 978-1-883319-71-7

Gloeckner is a legendary figure in underground comics. Her short, powerfully candid and visually explicit autobiographical graphic narratives vividly re-create the sexual victimization of her childhood and adolescence. Her first full-length book combines new work in color and in black-and-white, including the title story, along with older, shorter narrative comics dating back to 1976. (An appendix reprints her disturbing medical illustrations for J.G. Ballard's avant-SF classic The Atrocity Exhibition.) Abandoned by her father and sexually victimized by her alcoholic mother's lovers, the teenage heroine of ""Minnie's 3rd Love"" endures a ""week-long nightmare of sex and drug-taking"" among the hustlers and addicts of 1974 San Francisco. In the ruefully humorous ""Quaker School Q-Ties,"" girls team up to embarrass, and disgust, boys in their grade school. Gloeckner's drawings combine a labored precision with a wild, often satirical expressiveness; her protagonists can resemble sad, angry toy dolls. Undergound comics master R. Crumb's introduction combines glowing praise and a typically embarrassing confession: ""I, too, lusted after the young, budding artist-cartoonist."" (Oct.)