Graphic Novel Review – An Age of License
Lucy Knisley is an illustrator and writer who likes to make “travelogues” of her travels and culinary experiences. A collection of travelogues from her 2011 trip to Europe, which came about due to an invitation to a comics convention in Norway, makes up this particular book. Her book French Milk follows a similar formula from what I hear. Knisley has a new book coming out in 2015 and is available for hire through her website.
Summary: This travelogue takes Knisley to Norway, Sweden, Germany and France. She visits Norway for the comics convention, Stockholm to visit a lover, sees friends on their honeymoon in Berlin, and visits her friend and vacationing mother in France. Her experiences are journaled in drawing form very soon after they happen (from what I understood) and you get to hear her opinions and worries as they happen. Hindsight only enters in during a brief intervention telling off some weird convention bastards and at the end of the book in the form of letters sent to the people involved in the trip.
General Review: The book certainly does not appeal to me on any level. Normally when I travel I try and take in the sights and I’m not there to visit specific people, so Knisley’s approach of relating experiences she has with her friends rather than illustrating the scenery around her left me uninterested. Sometimes Knisley will have some shots of the buildings and architecture which I enjoyed, but they don’t show up very often.
Knisley’s art style closely resembles the styles of Jess Fink and Erika Moen of Oh Joy Sex Toy, and since I was introduced to the latter two women first and have more of an interest in their subject matter, Knisley’s artwork felt derivative to me. I’m fully willing to admit that this is probably just due to the order in which I’ve consumed these artists’ material, but some people familiar with the small press comics scene may find the artwork to be too common to be engaging in its own.
One of the decisions I will compliment her on is her decision to stay away from panels. It adds to the live action journaling aspect of it because space is clearly not thumbnailed ahead of time. It reminds me of the stream of consciousness comics that my younger brother would fill notebooks with that didn’t have a set plan, but he did run with it using that concept.
People who may like it: While I couldn’t get into the book at all, I can certainly see a demographic who would. People who are far more into food and some mild quirky experience relating would take to it well. The relationship/romance aspect of it isn’t a focus, so those who are avoidant of the sugary, gooey aspects of romance literature can find something to enjoy too I would dare say.
An Age of License on Amazon