WE ARE ON OUR OWN and CRICKETS #1 reviewed in Nashville City Paper

Web only column: Graphic Content

Nashville City Paper    |    Wil Moss    |    March 31, 2006

Miriam Katin fled Hungary in 1944 with her mother to escape the Nazi regime. We Are On Our Own is the 63-year-old's account of that time.

Katin's cartooning is like a finely detailed sketchpad; it's very easy to imagine Katin creating the drawings you're looking at. At some of the story's more active or violent moments, the art becomes appropriately chaotic and loose, as if Katin drudging up bad memories physically affected her drawing.

The number of rough situations Katin and her mother find themselves in over such a short period of time is just astonishing. And she doesn't hold back in showing how difficult and traumatic those situations could be.

The book feels at times both romanticized and brutally real. Katin in the story, through the efforts of her mother and of her young age, seems able to block out a lot of the traumatic experiences she lives through, but the ending of the story, tying in with the book's theme of looking for God, shows that she did not escape unscathed. It's a terrific memoir, and an astounding debut.

Notable singles

Good news for Sammy Harkham fans: The talented anthology contributor (and editor) has a new on-going comic book from Drawn & Quarterly called Crickets. Harkham has an understated, lyrical style, capable of transforming stories almost into fables, as in this first issue of Crickets, or conveying the mundane randomness of real life, as in his recent contribution, "Somersaulting," to Drawn & Quarterly Showcase No. 3. Crickets provides Harkham with a venue to cover both those extremes and everything in between. This first issue hits the ground running, literally and figuratively, with a guy running from a flood of arrows in the beginning of a serial called "Black Death." The guy can take an arrow through the head and keep ticking somehow, and he manages to hook up with a golem while hiding in the woods. It's a slow start, but one full of promise, both narratively and just in terms of the venue the book provides a furtive mind like Harkham's.

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