Currently Reading: French Milk

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French Milk is an autobiographical graphic novel by Lucy Knisley, who travelled to Paris with her mother for their 22nd and 50th birthdays. For more than a month, the humorous memoir follows Lucy around as her and her mother explore France—taking photographs, eating pastries and drinking French Milk. The story blends real life photos by Lucy with her drawn depictions of their days together, as a travel diary of sorts. For those of you who might not have ever read graphic novels before, I would definitely recommend browsing Amazon or Half.com (where books are often sold for less than ten cents) for a starter book. Persepolis, Maus and Epileptic are just some of my favorites, but if you’re less of a bookworm and more into movies, there are often wonderful film adaptations of graphic novels released as well, such as Persepolis or Ghost World.

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Lucy’s portrayal of life as an art student visiting back home with her quirky parents reminded me of the graphic memoir I started inklings of in college (see a snippet below). Once wedding photography season passes, I’d like to begin concentrating on starting the graphic memoir back up. For these frames below, I used home videos as a reference to capture my dad’s dialogue word-for-word (yes, he lovingly called me “little shit” as a pet name, we’re special like that), so I think I may have some home video-watching in my future.

Our family is probably a bit of a rare case, because we have almost every occasion from my youth on video. Ballet recitals, birthdays, holidays, sledding adventures, talent shows—they’re all captured on camera, so when referencing moments from my child and adult life, I have a lot of materials and images to pull from. My brother, who is 9 years older than me, also has loads of blackmail-worthy home videos including: my dad stalking him and his date on prom night, his questionable mustache/hair phases (I’m guilty of a mustache and pseudo-mullet as well, no worries big brother), modeling in an 80s fashion show with me at the mall…the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting back into graphic novel gear and re-exploring some of the funnier, slightly disturbing moments from my youth and beyond. French Milk was just the kick in the arse I needed to get inspired to mesh family anecdotes with real-life photos and illustrations.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels? I think Blankets by Craig Thompson is next on my list!

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