Reviews: I Don’t Like My Hair Neat
Julia Scheele doesn’t do enough comics. I’m sure she’ll be the first to agree with me as well, but bills, job, life…. they all get in the way. Such is the way of things. So 32 pages will have to do us for a little while. And 32 grand pages they are too. All underneath a lovely, lovely cover.
I’ve already talked of Scheele’s work a fair number of times on here, and I still really enjoy it. She has a habit of capturing a certain mood, a certain emotion, a vulnerability more often than not, and I find my mood and her art often synergising. Perhaps never more so than the single page ‘Burnt Out‘, and I’m not alone in my appreciation either, Douglas Noble put it as one of his three best comics of 2012. It still says so much, a perfect visual distillation of the drain of modern life, the emotional wipe-out detailed with sweeping reds, simple yet powerful figurework, as meaningful to me now as it was when I first saw it.
(Burnt Out – Julia Scheele)
Other short pieces here are perhaps less immediately emotionally involving, but just as visually pleasing, whether it’s Chrissy Williams’ poem piece, the delightful and delightfully silly play on words that is ‘Diem‘, or something as slight and simply pleasing as ‘Handbag‘, literally a checklist of the contents of Scheele’s bag.
(Short HIstory Of Touches – Julia Scheele)
But like ‘Burnt Out‘, it’s another of Scheele’s single pagers that stayed with me; the very evocative, somewhat disturbing ’Short History Of Touches‘ that delivers a menace and a threat in just 6 panels that other comic artists would fail to do so well in ten times the space:
But the lion’s share of the comic, 19-pages of the 32 is given over to the story ‘Positive‘, as written by Katie West. It is quite brilliant…
West’s writing style fits in with Scheele’s work perfectly; it’s a graphic, viscerally emotional piece, the crushing aftermath of an illicit affair, the 6-week delay of a kick to the guts, the trip to the chemist for the test kit, the nerves, the stress, the perfect secrecy and thrill of the affair gone like that.
There’s so much to talk of here, and it’s all so wonderful. Scheele’s art is so wonderfully relaxed, incredibly easy to look at, doing so much yet never seeming to be that bothered to do anything. If you know what I mean. Then there’s the beautiful synergy of Scheele and West and the flow and pacing they give to this tale, so beautifully nuanced, a tale of mood, of expression, of emotion; the languid sex to start, falling to relaxed post liaison return to home and husband, then the panic and confusion of the potential pregnancy, and best of all the mania of getting the damn testing kit, the moment between pissing on a piece of fortune telling plastic and finding out which path your life will be forced down – the time passing so slowly, the mania of the woman so brilliantly captured, nervous energy needing to be burned off, a run round the block the answer, and a page of absolute manic intensity;
It’s a great little story, made all the greater by the moments of slight levity; trying to imagine a child’s face playing mix and match with features from those involved – lover, her, husband – whose features make her feel more happy? Or best of all, the moment of pause in the chemist, the ridiculousness of the situation merely emphasising the insanity of it all…
Yep, all in all, I Don’t Like My Hair Neat is simply great. A simple, small thing perhaps, but such a wonderful collection of perfectly pitched emotions, beautifully illustrated. 2013 – more comics from Scheele? Oh, I certainly hope so.