cover image Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance

Aisha Franz, trans. from the German by Nicholas Houde. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-77046-633-3

Berlin-based cartoonist Franz follows her L.A. Times Book Prize finalist Shit Is Real with a caustic comedy about the ways young people try (and often fail) to reconcile their online lives with time IRL. A trio of protagonists are all patients of the same self-absorbed, scatterbrained therapist. There’s Anita, a sculptor making ceramics for Instagram and Etsy, whose professional jealousy becomes destructive; Rex, a food delivery messenger and freelance programmer whose code is essentially stolen by a successful wellness startup called Agileal; and the sex-obsessed, wannabe influencer Sandra, who gets fired from her administrative job at Agileal after her unhealthy need for intimacy and attention turns into harassment. Franz sports a subtly surreal illustration style, recalling Heinz Edelmann’s album art from Yellow Submarine, which augments both the humor and mundane horror of the internet’s “everything everywhere all at once” nature. The story highlights the lack of separation between digital and analog, as hobbies become jobs, humans become brands, and constant connectivity becomes isolation. Franz’s mordant and melancholy graphic novel reveals the irony of “social” media. (Apr.)