March 15, 2007

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Lucky, by Gabrielle Bell (Drawn & Quarterly, 2006, 111 pages)
By Lucas Lund news@hippopress.com

In the introduction (also a comic) to her book, Gabrielle describes Lucky as a graphic diary that began as an experiment in the spring of 2003. What evolved was “Lucky #1,” a very solipsistic (what self-respecting diary wouldn’t be, but still…) account of Bell’s activities between April 22 and June 2 of that year. In this diary, the first of three in the book, the panels are small and jammed with so many words that Bell can’t use dialog balloons most of the time. The main characters, Gabrielle and Tom, move separately in and out of small apartments. Gabrielle’s days are filled with angst or ennui. Nothing really happens. For anyone who is not a blue or artistic girl between the ages of 16 and 24 (and perhaps even for them), this is both boring and a bummer.

Fortunately, “Lucky #2” is better. The panels are bigger, the diary is 12 pages shorter, and Bell is far less wordy. Things happen: Gabrielle travels, she ponders Important Artistic Questions, and has funny encounters with an obnoxious comics fan and a yoga instructor. Halleluiah! After “Lucky #1” I thought that Bell had no sense of humor.

The improvements continue in “Lucky #3.” Gabrielle finds gainful employment and nearly loses her mind in the process. Fortunately she saves herself with quirky daydreams. The daydreams seem almost to have spawned the three very short and fun short stories at the end of Bell’s collection.

Bell’s art is simple and clean, causing character confusion a few times in the later diaries.

It is interesting and inspiring (though unfortunately also painful for the first 42 pages) to see the creator of Lucky grow. B