Brian Fies, . . Abrams/Image, $12.95 (115pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5840-1
D on't let the title put you off: collecting the Eisner Award–winning Web comic of the same name, this story is more about how a life-altering event affects an entire family than another Lifetime disease-of-the-week story. When freelance writer Fies finds out his mother has both lung cancer and a brain tumor, her attempts to fight the disease—including rounds of radiation and chemotherapy—pull her entire family into the struggle. Fies is gentle but honest in telling his story. He refrains from painting his mother as a saint, depicting her instead as someone getting through a horrible situation by refusing to acknowledge just how bad it is. Nor does he shy away from the more complicated emotions his mother's health generates, including a sometimes heated rivalry with his two sisters (knowledgeable "Nurse Sis" and empathetic "Kid Sis"). Fies is most compelling when he finds insight in small details unique to his mother's experience, such as the strength she draws from a leather purse her father made while confined in a tuberculosis sanitarium. The clean, simple comic-strip quality of Fies's art fits the story perfectly, highlighting the gravity of the situation while cutting away undue sentimentality.
Reviewed on: 01/30/2006
Hardcover - 128 pages - 978-0-8109-7107-3