Book of the Month: La Perdida by Jessica Abel

There have been lists of entry points and/or the best comics that did no feature a single female creator. And sure, men create plenty of amazing comics that are worth reading. But so do women.

Marvel is beginning a year-long initiative in 2010 about comics for and created by women. Even before I read about this, I had some thought in this direction: Great comics by women, worthy of being read by any comics fan, new or old.

On the first Wednesday of each month for the rest of 2010, I will profile a title that had a strong contribution by a woman, whether she was artist, writer or both. These won’t be reviews as much as it is a call to pick up these books and read them. If they’re on the list, I like them and I think they’re good. And I think you’ll like them too.


La Perdida

Buy at Amazon.com

For January, I am starting with Jessica Abel‘s La Perdida (Pantheon Books, 2006).

I’d really like to say I picked this book for some specific reason — like it relates to the New Year because it deals with trying to start over, trying to find one’s self, or even because it’s really cold here right now so being in Mexico seems like a nice thought — but I didn’t. I really just picked it at random. But those reasons do work pretty well.

Carla travels to Mexico to try to reconnect with her father but mostly she’s there to try to find herself. She ditches her community of expatriate friends to ingratiate herself in Mexican culture. While she’s busy more-or-less playing tourist, real life intervenes. Carla isn’t always likable and she often gets in her own way with her naivete. She’s fun to watch, though.

Abel’s art reminds me, appropriately, of a travel sketch journal — her drawings are done in thick pen and ink and have a hurried feel, as if she needed to record events before they slipped away. There’s a beautiful immediacy to this book that’s incredibly satisfying and poignant.

Yes, this is maybe more a book you give your socially-conscious friends rather than your X-Men-reading friends, but I see nothing wrong with offering it to both. It’s imperfect, sure — some plot points felt a little rushed to me — but like all great literature, it’s thought-provoking. I’m actually going to hand my copy off to a friend to see what he thinks of it.

3 comments

  1. I really enjoyed La Perdida, it was towards the beginning of my starting to really read indie comics.

    I reposted my review of it to Panel Patter awhile back if you wanted my take on it, especially as a person more suited to “X-men” comics at the time. ;)

    I definitely think it’s a book you can give to anyone, especially to show the range of what comics can do.

    (http://panelpatter.blogspot.com/2008/11/la-perdida.html in case you don’t want to try to poke through my archives)

  2. Romanticide says:

    “or even because it’s really cold here right now so being in Mexico seems like a nice thought ”
    Oh pity, Mexico city is really cold right now. But some of the beaches are quite nice this time of the year.
    I remember that Jessica Abel once came to Mexico to talk about her work, and for some reason the people who made questions insisted to ask if it the story was autobiographic? And Ms Abel actually said that the things Carla did where probably some of the dumbest things she could ever think, and she hoped she wouldn’t do something like that. The places she drew are actually acuarate though she showed some of the pictures she took as reference.

  3. comicsgirl says:

    It has to be warm somewhere in Mexico right now, right? I mean, at least warmer than it is where I am, which has barely been above freezing.

    It was always clear to me that it wasn’t autobiographical, although Abel did draw on her experiences of being there, at least abstractly. She does seem much smarter than Carla.

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