cover image Desperate Pleasures

Desperate Pleasures

M.S. Harkness. Uncivilized, $16.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-941250-42-6

Following up Tinderella, Harkness continues to take bracingly original perspectives on material made stale by lesser autobio cartoonists: the mundanities of modern-day survival, the miseries of dating, and the agony of facing the past. Harkness still spends her free time on weight lifting—her passion—and casual hookups, but has started to make money on the side by dealing pot and going on paid dates with sugar daddies. “For a while, I was using sex as a distraction from how unsatisfying life was,” her cartoon avatar explains. “Now, I need a distraction from how unsatisfying sex is becoming.” She gets semiserious with Girya, a personal trainer, and her mixed feelings force a reckoning with her abuse-filled childhood. Harkness’s art has grown more assured, with her cartoon self abstracted into a big-headed figure with an oversize ponytail. She captures the stark settings of exurbia: chaotic hipster bars, lonely diners, snowbound neighborhoods at night. For a nearly wordless flashback sequence, she switches to a softer art style, gently shaded in pencil. Fans of Tinderella will certainly be happy to catch up with Harkness here, and it’s an equally fresh anti-romance for newcomers to her work. (Oct.)