Thursday, September 27, 2007

Escape from "Special" by Miss Lasko-Gross

I was looking at the YALSA list of Great Graphic Novels and came across Escape from "Special" by Miss Lasko-Gross. I recognized the name because she contributed an illustration for Dave Roman's Agnes Quill, which I liked so much. My library doesn't own it so I had to get it via ILL. (I heart ILL.)

I'm a fan of autobiographical works so this one really appealed to me. We read Melissa's story from elementary school to middle school. She has loving, wacky parents and has an unusual childhood - traveling with her dad's hippie band, going to alternative schools, visiting a lame therapist. She winds up in special ed classes which have more to do with her insecurities than her abilities. About 1/2 way through the book we find out Melissa has a very high IQ. So, naturally, she's an outsider, to say the least. She struggles to comprehend pre-teen girl friendships and battles with her own ideals of being herself but also wanting acceptance by the popular kids. Eventually she comes to the decision that she is a-ok. Nothing terribly new here story wise. Melissa makes you cringe and laugh... and memories of my own adolescence were quick to resurface while reading more than a few of Melissa's.

The book is really a collection of short stories, some as short as just one page. I like this format of going from one memory to the next. Each story has its own title. The cover is in color, but the stories are rendered in grey and black. Miss Lasko-Gross draws her comic with pen and that lack of crispness from computer enhancements appeals to me in a big way. It makes the art more personal and is perfect for Melissa's not-so-perfect story. As the book's title states, Melissa does escape from "special" and I am eagerly looking forward to what becomes of Melissa post "special" liberation.

P.S. So there's a myspace for comics?

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