Late Bloomer

by Carol Tyler
Published by Fantagraphics

Buy it from my little store!

Andrew Arnold's Review

Review by Bob Callahan, Editor
Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics, 2004
Writer and Contributor,

It is lovely to see the world awakening somewhat to the work of Carol Tyler. Tyler has been somewhat of a mystery figure in the world of the comics, as her work had not found the driving publisher she has now found with Fantagraphics. The name of her new book is LATE BLOOMER, and if there is any doubt that Carol at least sees it that way, one needs but to read the book's dedication. One should, anyway. Carol has dedicated this book to people we know. Some of them might even be us. Your own mother's story might be here.

"This book is dedicated to anyone who has deferred a dream due to raising children or care-giving, or has experienced a significant setback from emotional hurt, physical or mental illness, pain, injury or loss, or any other blind-side interruption that has impeded the achievement of a goal. This book is dedicated to the possibilities that lie within all of us. This book is a celebration of us 'late bloomers'."

You can get some of the sweep of the great humane beauty in Tyler's work in that statement. What you can't find is any blame directed at the crunch which women of Tyler's generation were confronted by moving out of second class storage and into the main cabin. Carol was one of the those who threw her life into the breech. And as terrible as it was for mother's and daughters at times: history simply demanded -- no suicide, no suicide girls. There is blood all over that trail.

And yet Ms. Tyler never stopped drawing. Her husband, who is also a genius at these kind of comic strips, Mr. Justin Green, did win a huge amount of attention for his novella "Binky Brown meets the Blessed Virgin Mary." If you believe Art Spiegelman, and I can assure you it is dangerous not to believe Art Spiegelman, Justin was the one who invented the autobiographical comic a few years before Harvey Pekar. I think, in fact, Pekar also agrees. I think it also true that the women in comics -- the twisted sisters -- as a couple of great anthologies called them -- showed that the women took to the autobiographical edge in much greater numbers then the men who were opposing fascist super hero avengers with aimless nerds, as if I either offered a way to become a human being.

In any case Tyler's work did not win the same champions, and these great little stories she then wrote about working class women -- and Carol is from that dirt poor part of America that William Carlos Williams always championed-- were collected and publis hed in a work called LABOR many years ago. Some of us spotted the genius even then; yet for most, that first book just went sailing by.

This new book is clearly one of the best comic albums of the year. In it you will find Tyler's range from one shot one page stories, to the longer short story which is my favorite Tyler medium. It also gives us some gorgeous color work -- thanks again to Fantagraphics who value such things -- and a playfulness among forms that is very exciting for those of us who think that form alone is about the only thing left to truly get excited about. I love Tyler's Banners, but there is no bad color work, or black and white for that matter, in this volume.

In person, Tyler is a wonderfully handsome woman. Which is nobody's business, of course, but that the artist doesn't believe it for a moment. Hence she draws herself, and the people of her world, every bit as goofy as she think she looks and they look, and what this art ignores in classical truth, it more than makes up for in warmth, humor, and humanity. Tyler, I am trying to close by saying, draws real funny.

Actually why not leave the last word on to R. Crumb, who has championed her cause all for decades. As the great Bob-O writes in his forward to this collection: "She is tops, in my book, one of the best artists alive and working in the comics medium. She has fine aesthetic instincts... Her drawings are always pleasing to look at, warm, delicate, inviting. Yet the content, the stories, are all about gritty reality, the hard struggles of common, everyday life. No escapism. No cutesifying, she never tries make herself come off as Ms. Cool and clever, nothing is contrived, or over dramatized."

The Fantagraphic volume (and if you purchase from the author herself), I should add, even comes with a small packet of seeds for your own garden. Carol, now, and thank you very much, is fully in bloom.

Bob Callahan Berkeley December, 2005

The Hannah Story

"There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of comics stories that can make you laugh, but only a handful that can make you cry. The Hannah Story heads that list."
Review of Carol Tyler's Hannah Story, from The Top 100 Comics, The Comics Journal #210

Look for The Hannah Story in the upcoming book "You'll Never Know."

Learn more about The Top 100 Comics here.

The Job Thing

Everybody's had at least one miserable job in his or her life. This book is a collection of short stories about that very topic. Originally appearing in Mark Burbey's Street Music, this is a must have read for anyone who has ever spent time in the trenches.

Buy it from my little store!

Here's my favorite link to The Job Thing.

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