cover image Rat Time

Rat Time

Keiler Roberts. Koyama, $12 trade paper (124p) ISBN 978-1-927668-70-2

Ignatz Award–winner Roberts (Chlorine Gardens) continues to gently guide readers on meandering, illuminating rambles through the quotidian in this newest autobiographical installment. The narrative loosely encompasses “the time when we had rats;” pets that Roberts’s daughter, Xia, acquires while the family adjusts to seismic shifts in their lives. But that construct is the springboard for Roberts to ruminate—via sketched-out memories and doodles of everyday life—on death, art, childhood, growing up, relationships between humans and animals, and more. A description of the art class Roberts teaches leads to memories of her own high school days, which lead to a trip to the Body Worlds exhibition of preserved corpses, which remind Roberts of eating dried squid, and so on. Meanwhile, Roberts gradually finds her equilibrium after being diagnosed with MS. The stream-of-consciousness storytelling and preoccupation with mundane details—cooking, driving, going through the routines of childcare, pondering questions such as “What makes me cry?”—recall pioneering autobio zine-ster John Porcellino. But Roberts’s stark, distanced visual style and abrupt humor is all her own. Her narrative threads seem constantly in danger of fraying into nothing before looping back to repeating images, themes, and the occasional gut punch. Roberts defines her philosophy: “the world is precious and its detail is remarkable”; her graphic memoir embodies that attentive spirit. (Sept.)