cover image How I Tried to Be a Good Person

How I Tried to Be a Good Person

Ulli Lust. Fantagraphics, $34.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-68396-203-8

Lust’s intimate and imaginative follow-up graphic memoir to her Ignatz award–winning punk travelogue Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life picks up when she is an unemployed and uncertain 20-something mother. Early on, the structure meanders along with Ulli’s life choices: she bounces back and forth between Vienna and the countryside, where her son lives with her parents, and between dating an older actor, Georg, and her working-class Nigerian boyfriend, Kimata. Georg is okay with the arrangement, but Kimata claims, “I’m an African man. I can’t be with a woman who loves two men.” Ulli waits out his tortured rages with cool avoidance; then it’s back to sex. When Kimata’s angst takes a violent turn, the political and cultural forces that seemed like background noise come into sharp, painful focus: 1980s and ’90s Austria may be a place where health insurance flows like water, but it also treats immigrants and domestic violence survivors with tragic disdain. Lust tells her story as she draws it: straightforward, detailed, and explicit. Her black-and-white line drawings, spot-colored with pink, are chock-full with penises, hairy vulvas, and joyously fanciful backdrops. Lust’s frank rendition makes plain how passions (both artistic and bodily) may inspire horrible decision-making, but they can also drive people to figure out who they truly are. (July)