Barbara Slate Week concludes, which was a (work) week’s worth of spotlights on the work of Barbara Slate, an underappreciated comic book creator who I’ve long been a fan of.
Today we take a look at Slate’s most recent graphic novel (which she wrote and drew), Getting Married and Other Mistakes, which just came out last year from Other Press.
Getting Married and Other Mistakes is centered on a simple enough concept – the notion that for a generation (a generation that happened to include Ms. Slate), getting married was more or less viewed as the end goal for a young woman.
It certainly was for the protagonist of Slate’s book, something that her mother drove into her mind from a ripe age…
The comic opens with our hero, Jo Hudson, newly divorced after her husband of seven years leaves her for a younger woman. She goes into a deep depression….
She is mostly known for her bridal photography…
Bridal photos are an important part of the story.
Jo tells us of how ingrained the notion of being married was to her growing up, even right down to the lamp next to her when she slept…
As you can see from the sample pages, the book is visually distinctive, as Slate uses a sort of pop art style to make the story really, well, for lack of a better word, pop.
Jo is a compelling protagonist and her story is familiar to many. Jo collects sad bridal photos and the women in the photos end up working as a sort of Greek chorus for Jo.
In the end, though, the story asks the question, “If you spent your whole life believing that being a wife was the end all/be all goal, then what do you do when you’re NOT a wife anymore?” Obviously, you learn to define yourself in a different way, but it is easy for me to SAY that, it is difficult for Jo to get there.
This is clearly a very personal story for Slate to tell, and that shines through, as Jo is a well-developed character that is easy to root for (even if she doesn’t always realize how “rootable” she is).
Jo’s journey is a familiar one in general, but the devil, as they say, is in the details, and the details here are fascinating and her journey is a blast to read.