cover image My Badly Drawn Life

My Badly Drawn Life

Gipi, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, $22.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-68396-521-3

In this raw and bawdy graphic memoir, Italian cartoonist Gipi (Land of the Sons) anxiously reviews his messy life and varying maladies, and seeks some kind of peaceful balance. The fragmented biography opens with a depressed Gipi (“Nothing interests me anymore”) obsessing over illnesses, which may be in his head. He ties self-destructive loops back to youthful episodes of lashing out: a stint in a Germs-inspired punk band is drawn self-mockingly, suicide attempts are related in a blasé serio-comic manner, and drug-fueled breaks from reality are rendered in gothic, frenetic strokes (he worries that he had dosed too far and would “end up barking at closed storefronts all night”). The brisk, chaotic story is rendered in slashing hacks of scratchy black line art, which breaks only briefly for a running subplot of nightmare-fantasy—presented with oddly soothing washes of color—about a captured writer who staves off rape and murder by a shipload of depraved pirates by telling stories, Scheherazade-like. Once the narrator digs past his Rothian sexual manias, the conclusion delivers a surprisingly thoughtful and vulnerable coda to the self-battering anger that suffuses much of the work. Readers beloved of antiheroes will appreciate Gipi’s insights, though they do not come easy. (Feb.)