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July 18, 2013

Major Eleanor Davis Short-Story Collection Announced


By Tom Spurgeon

imageFantagraphics Books is set to announce its intention to publish a short-story collection by the rising art-comics star and illustrator Eleanor Davis. Davis was featured prominently in the Fantagraphics anthology MOME, and is a widely-published commercial illustrator. She has also made comics for Little House Comics, the mini-comics and small publishing imprint she co-owns with husband Drew Weing. Her web presence can be accessed in various places such as here and here.

Although specifications of the book have yet to be decided, it's likely that Davis' comics for MOME will be prominently featured. Davis had comics in volumes 7, 8, 9, 11 and 22 of that publication.

"[Davis is] an artist who demands that readers see conflicts from varying points of view and especially from the point of view of children," the critic Robert Clough wrote to CR in a short note. "Many of her short stories have been about children seeking authenticity in the face of corrupt or uncertain authority. Davis is also fascinated by the dark roots of myth, working in a fantasy setting to get at the fears and uncertainty such stories originally served to examine and stir up. I'd describe her art style as earthy, with no idealized figures and the use of a frequently smudged line. Even in a mass-market book like The Secret Science Alliance, her characters have a wonderful griminess that spotlights her deep understanding of how to depict children in a way that looks and feels authentic."

Contacted by CR Davis gave a bit of the book's background and noted that there will be some new work in there as well. "About 4 years ago I decided to stop trying to do personal work -- 'my art' -- for money," she said. "Like every other cartoonist ever I vaguely thought I should do a graphic novel, but instead since then I've been mostly dicking around in sketchbooks and posting stuff online. After a while I realized that sort of ephemeral, small, fluid voice is basically all I need -- I suspect I'll never do a graphic novel, I'll never have a cohesive style or a thesis or any major theme to my stuff. That's when I decided to write Gary asking if Fantagraphics would be interested in putting out a collection of my work. It'll have my older Mome shorts and a lot of my newer weird sketchy stuff, most of which you can read online. I'm working on new-new stuff for it, but I'm not sure how much I'll have.

"I feel a huge gratefulness and relief that all that scrappy work will be collected into some sort of whole. It seems strange to me that other people will be reading it as a whole, but I'm thankful for it. The strange, tenuous, co-dependant relationship between creator and reader is odd. I am glad every time I feel a connection to an artist I like, or to a reader who likes my art. It's a strange, dried-out, distant connection, a crackling lonesome connection like a voice heard from the other end of a shitty phone line or inside a deep, deep well. But it's still a connection; it's real."

The book is due in 2014. Gary Groth will edit.

posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

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