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Nothing would ever be the same again

For my debut at The Los Angeles Times (!), I wrote about cartoonist Brian Fies’s graphic account of losing his home in the 2017 California wildfires. A Fire Story is his chronicling, in comics, of life during and after the second-most destructive wildfire in the state’s history:

Following a tense sequence that has the cartoonist and his wife springing from bed and frantically hauling belongings out to their driveway and the palpable heartbreak that materializes later when Fies scouts out their rubble-strewn streets, A Fire Story shares lesser-broadcast hardships as well as how quickly wildfire victims are expected to process a frenzied cycle of emotions.

A drawn five-key keychain has three keys that “don’t do anything anymore,” explains Fies in a caption. Homes elsewhere are reduced to wholly blacked-out, cross-hatched blots on stretches of sepia-toned blocks that look like a war zone, where neighbors comb the charred ruins of their houses’ foundations. Discussions with utility companies prove pointless. A tally of long-gone items on a single-panel page is slugged “Things I Will Never See Again.” But a vulnerable Fies doesn’t grieve alone—the careful accounting here culminates in what’s better described as a work of comics journalism than it is autobiography.

Read my whole piece at The Los Angeles Times.

 

Among them too were women

Between May and June of 1951, in a building slated for demolition, more than 70 artists collectively known as The New York School participated in an exhibition that spanned two floors of 60 East 9th Street in Lower Manhattan. While the show included work from artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock (and would play a role in elevating the profiles of those painters), women were participating in the exhibit, too. But unlike their male contemporaries, they don’t have anything even remotely resembling a starring role in helping define the Abstract Expressionist movement.