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THE STORY OF MY TITS

Story of My Tits coverThe Story of My Tits
By Jennifer Hayden
352 8x8-inch pages, b/w
2015
Top Shelf paperback
$29.99

The title, naturally, drew me like flies on horse pucky. But this graphic novel is much more than the story of the author’s breasts. It is, rather, her autobiography, starting, admittedly, with her flat-chestedness on the cusp of becoming a teenager and the agonies thereof. But she discovers sex despite this disadvantage, sleeps around, learns that boys are attracted to breasts, and hers finally show up. She pairs up with Jim, whom she eventually marries.

But there are other adventures. Her mother has a mastectomy, her father is discovered having an affair (which had gone on for five previous years), she moves in with Jim, and they move around, looking for work. He plays in a band; she writes. They go to Philly where they live with Jim’s mom, who becomes Hayden’s best friend. Then she, Jim’s mom not Hayden, develops lung cancer of which she eventually dies but not until near the end of the book.

Jim gets steady gigs with his band, and, after seven years of living together, Hayden starts agitating to get married. After a long campaign of persuasion, Jim proposes, and they marry (but not until they go through the ordeal of making wedding plans). Then Hayden begins to wonder about having children. More campaigning. Then she gets pregnant and has a baby. A boy. Next she has a girl.

Then she gets breast cancer and has a double mastectomy and implants. Jim stays constant. Hayden discovers graphic novels and starts making one, the one we’re reading.

The book offers ample insights into the various agonies of being female in America and of life in general and “the endlessly evolving definition of family,” as the back cover blurb puts it. “Hayden’s story is a much-needed breath of fresh air, an irresistible blend of sweetness and skepticism—rich with both symbolism and humor.”

The story might be anyone’s and everyone’s. But the pictures in this graphic novel are unique. The story is told in the captions; and the pictures, in Hayden’s quirky amateurish style, comment on the captions — expanding, footnoting, and supplying additional (often superfluous) detail. The panels are crowded, crammed, with visual information, a disorderly jumble of pictorial minutiae. The pictures seldom depict a continuous action from panel to panel. Most often, the panels and captions have the appearance of gag cartoons but they don’t function that way. Sometimes the captions and their pictures blend for meaning, but most often, they run hand-in-hand, carrying Hayden’s story from page to page, endless in their visual variety.

Here, we’ve posted a sample of the book’s visual aspect.

Hayden1

Hayden3

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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