cover image Chlorine Gardens

Chlorine Gardens

Keiler Roberts. Koyama, $12 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-927668-58-0

Roberts (Sunburning) continues to mine both quotidian and existential moments in another deeply satisfying collection of simultaneously deadpan and poignant autobiographical comics, delineated in slightly awkward but appealing black-and-white drawings. Roberts depicts moments of funny domestic life with her husband, Scott; their young daughter, Xia; their dog, Crooky; and her quirky but always supportive parents. Mixed in are more fraught concerns, such as living with bipolar disorder and a recent diagnosis of MS. The never-ending struggle to make art is also a recurring theme: in one outstanding sequence, Roberts muses on the old expression “Too much of a good thing,” which escalates into an exploration of the ebbs and flows—and overwhelming overflows—of her creative process. “Occasionally I’m stifled by overabundant creativity,” she confesses. In another reflection, she mulls over mortality, vividly recalling one of her final visits with her dying grandfather as he was having dinner: “I tried to memorize him eating without crying.” Her spare but evocative line drawings, with their generous use of white space, work in tandem with the direct and detached tone of her narratives, allowing readers to fill in the emotional spaces between visual pauses. Roberts is a unique and nuanced storyteller, and this proves her best, richest book yet. [em](Sept.) [/em]