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posted April 28, 2008
Fantagraphics, hardcover, 88 pages, March 2008, $14.95
Fantagraphics has quietly re-released Debbie Drechsler's Daddy's Girl
collection of related short stories, and I have to imagine that anyone who reads it now is in for something of a shock. Daddy's Girl
is about child abuse, which is shown. Repeatedly. Much more is hinted at as well. Like with many portrayals in comics form of something hideous, the shock of becoming a witness is heightened by heartbreaking, incidental details. There's one in the cover image above. Lily is eating cookies in order to wash the taste of her father out of her mouth.
This sounds exploitative, but Drechsler's fealty to a complex portrayal of Lily's emotional, completely damaged emotional through-line makes it a compelling book instead of merely an upsetting one. In perhaps the work's best short story, Lily makes friends with a girl named Claudia where we get to see Claudia's aching shyness and charm through the platonic crush of first friendship that drives Lily's view of her. Drechsler's occasional tendency to offer up the easier observations about some of her characters proves to be a definite weakness; some of the characters feel a bit more like types than one might expect from the sensitivity of certain portrayals throughout the rest of the work. The detail work is stronger than the more general character to character moments. Also, I'm not sure the collection ever coheres into a proper longer story. That sort of makes sense because the material fairly resists it. Lily will never come full circle and become whole, at least not with 100 pages of what we've seen. It's a nice collection, though, from an artist who doesn't really work in comics anymore, and many of the pages have definite power.