I read Jessica Abel's La Perdida in separate issues, and forgot I meant to review it when the collected book came out. But this evening someone reminded me that I haven't done a comic review in a while. That's because my books are all in f'in boxes still, and will be for weeks more. I can do this one, though.
My girlfriend said La Perdida did a very good job of capturing what it was like to be a young woman all alone in a foreign country: without any familiarity with the culture, it's very difficult to judge what's safe and what's not. You make friends without really knowing if you should trust them, and sometimes you make mistakes.
She would know. I wouldn't, since I'm neither female nor a traveler. It certainly sounds plausible, and it describes very well what happens to Carla, the protagonist of La Perdida, when she travels to Mexico City. She doesn't want to be just another ex-pat so she hangs out more and more with her sketchy boyfriend and his even sketchier friends.
There aren't that many convincing fictional portraits of dumb young people who think they're a lot smarter and more worldly than they really are. That's not to say that there aren't a lot of fictional characters like that, but that very few of them are convincing. Usually because the writers who created them are young, dumb, and convinced they're a lot smarter and more worldly than they really are. Even rarer is for author to create a whole group of convincing dumb young people with different ideas of how they're smarter than everyone else. The best example I can think of is Flaubert's Sentimental Education. It's not easy. Jessica Abel does it.
The art is not as strong. Sometimes the panels feel cluttered. The faces and the composition of the panels often remind me of newspaper soap opera cartoons, though better done. The best I can say about it is that you stop noticing it after a while.
[Addendum:] I may have stolen the "multiple dumb young people in Sentimental Education" idea from a friend. I may have thought of it myself in conversation with said friend. I honestly don't remember which. So if you're reading this and you want credit, it's yours. If anything, your ideas are so smart my subconscious is acting out a little wish-fulfillment drama:
"I wish I'd thought of that."
"Shit, I DID think of that, didn't I?"
Tags: comics, La Perdida, Jessica Abel