While loitering in Waterstones the other day, I was lucky enough to witness my girlfriend’s joy at discovering a comic book which actually appealed to her. The book in question was Ellerbisms, by local Essex-based creator Marc Ellerby, a charming collection of autobiographical cartoon strips.
Emily loved the book so much that she decided to review it over on her literary blog dystopic.co.uk, and offer a fresh perspective from someone who doesn’t know comics but knows what they like:
Ellerbisms is a collection of short autobiographical comic strips that mainly hones in on the relationship between Marc Ellerby and his Swedish girlfriend, Anna. It also displays everyday life at its most exciting and its most tedious, captures the soul-destroying pain and intense euphoria that pursuing a creative career can evoke, and beautifully reveals the traits of a typical, modern day twenty-something; an excitable, guilt-enslaved idiot, too busy overthinking and underthinking and not thinking at all.
The whole thing is best described as irrelevant relevance, romanticizing the unimportant and downplaying the catastrophic. Turning a fleeting moment into a permanent one is strange, entertaining and thought-provoking, and it oddly forces the reader to consider their own life while reading the deeply personal thoughts of someone else.
Read the rest of the review here.
Anyway, after Emily devoured Ellerbisms in a single afternoon, I took her to my local comic book store in Southend, Ace Comics, where I hoped to nourish her blossoming appreciation for the funny books with some more non-superhero graphic novels.
Unfortunately, the store’s selection of books was pretty depressing, and we left empty-handed.
It wasn’t a lack of female-friendly titles that was the problem, but the visibility of such titles. Newcomers entering Ace Comics for the first time would be greeted by Marvel and DC’s weekly output, gaming cards and a whole ton of merchandise crap… but there were few graphic novels on display that would appeal to either the uninitiated or the fairer sex.
This struck me as somewhat baffling, until I returned home to read about Mark Millar’s misogynistic comments on rape and DC’s ill-advised Harley Quinn competition… and I realised that at no point did anyone take into account that female readers or readers-to-be (or even those wanting something other than bulging biceps, buxom babes and genre-driven violence) would ever enter the store.
Of course, there is material like Ellerbisms out there. You just have to find it. But unfortunately that initial hurdle will likely lose many a potential comic consumer in the years to come, as digital and self-publishing see creators struggling to reach their readership.
So, if anyone has managed to make it this far, could you possibly suggest any books that Emily might like? She loved Daniel Clowe’s Ghost World, and is now on David Boring. I was thinking Strangers in Paradise next… or perhaps Craig Thompson’s Blankets. Any ideas?
6 thoughts on “Marc Ellerby’s ‘Ellerbisms’ Started Something Special”
Blankets is a wonderful choice, it looks big and daunting but it’s anything but and doesn’t ask you to read any more than the one book.
If you can find it “Baby’s in Black” is the true story of the German artist who fell in love with Stuart Sutcliffe while the Beatles were living in Hamburg. My local comic shop showed it to me and I couldn’t put it down.
I think Blankets perfectly demonstrates that, when it comes to comics and graphic novels, page count isn’t always a good indication of the time a book will take to read. Have placed it on the Christmas list.
Will also look into the Beatles book, thanks!
In terms of autobio, I’d highly recommend EmiTown by Emi Lenox and Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat. Both are pretty much entirely free to try out online first, as well! I also say you can’t go wrong with Strangers in Paradise, but it’s hard for me to be objective about it. In my opinion, it’s one of the most ‘literary’ works I’ve read, and one I re-read quite often (discovering something new each time).
Bone is really good for something adventurous and whimsical, as well, and definitely worth giving a try.
Thanks, will look into the above two. Yes, I did consider Bone, it’s certainly charming and has universal appeal, and Strangers in Paradise is a matter of when rather than if, lol.
I’d also recommend Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys. Its a semi-autobiographical comic by a very good cartoonist and fun writer.
Thanks, looks good. Will check it out!