Review: More Messy Hair – I Don’t Like My Hair Neat Issue 2
I love Scheele’s work, seriously love it. The first I Don’t Like My Hair Neat was a great comic, including a couple of strips where Scheele’s voice really came through on writing and art, and a beautifully affecting 19-page story ‘Positive‘, written by Katie West that really, really impressed. At its best Scheele’s work is visceral and challenging, yet also has a fragility and a beauty that together deliver a body blow. Indeed, part of the reason she may not make as many comics as I’d like is that she reaches deep inside herself for much of her work, and dammit, that sort of exposure must take it out of you, that sort of honesty and openness must be tiring and painful.
This new collection of nine pieces from the past year or so have the same general mix of moods and styles as the first issue, although this time there’s not quite as much strength in the collaborations as I found with Katie West’s tale.
The opening comic What Is Left Behind, written by Alistair Bohm, just doesn’t have the same sense of intensty that marks the best of Scheele’s work, either solo or in collaboration. The other direct collaboration in here, the Chrissy Williams written Magic is better, a comic poem thing, simple yet striking for Scheele’s art and especially her vivid colour choices here:
Another two collaborations here are indirect, Scheele interpreting the works of first Le Tigre and then Timbre Timbre, giving a visual definition to their lyrics. Both work well, both are striking, interesting things. But the Le Tigre song, based as it is on a raw, violent moment, is harrowing when Scheele depicts it, and even more so as Scheele adds her own small narration to the lyrics on the final two pages;
However, no matter how good these collaborations, the highlight of the comic is always going to be where Scheele writes and draws. There are five pieces here amongst the nine works both written and drawn by Scheele and not coincidentally some of these are my favourite things in here.
There’s an immediate change in tone when Scheele writes, an easy going yet intense note. Whether it’s in the tale of a Brazilian Christmas trip of Bad Omen, discovering the hybrid Christian and African religion of Candomble, that compares Scheele’s near joyous reaction with her then boyfriend’s insular horror, or the two-page simplicity of Keep Moving, a plea to simply keep putting one damn foot before the other sometimes, there’s interest in how and what Scheele writes.
But there are two absolute standout moments here, both written and drawn by Scheele, both painful, emotional things, both given strength by their honesty and truth. Focus is just one page, but it’s a powerful single page, the artist calling out, but calling out what? She doesn’t know, but we can empathise so easily, such is the simple perfection of the piece;
The second piece is Sinking, one we featured on the blog back in July, a short but brutally honest piece addressing Scheele’s depression and anxiety at the time. It’s something anyone who’s ever suffered from either can immediately recognise, such is the power in Scheele’s imagery, a truth that hits really hard, the sense of isolation, of losing oneself, of falling into the illness, it’s all there, Scheele reaching into everyone who’s every suffered and detailing just what we feel like at times, the dissociation, the loss of identity, the dead feeling, the wish to just fall away, the desire to change coupled with the knowledge that we can’t, that this is how it is for a time.
Sinking is so spot on that it brought tears to my eyes, and after that, it was used as an example to loved ones of how this feels sometimes. Powerful and true, that’s where Scheele can go at her best.
It’s the power and truth in Scheele’s work, combined with that wonderfully relaxed and eminently readable artwork that I keep coming back to as something special.
I do wish Scheele would find more time to create and possibly more confidence to let her work speak for her. I’d really love to see something more substantial next year, she’s a great creator with a very natural, always interesting voice. What we had was marvellous, but I’m greedy, and want more more more of Scheele.