One Good Thing is described on the back cover as:
“A diary comic that tries to find the good in life. Because the little good things are more important than the big bad ones.”
And that’s genuinely a sentiment you can feel throughout these two issues, where Rachael Smith (of the great The Way We Write) celebrates everything good in her life, large and small, silly or important. It’s something that could have been syrupy sweet and I reckon some will find it too much, but I think it’s handled just right, and a lot of that comes from Smith’s effervescent tone, a determined optimism to keep going, and it makes me smile a lot throughout.
If One Good Thing is Rachael Smith’s attempt to deliver something good into the world, and make the reader’s day a little better by sharing life’s ups and downs, then this smile on my face says she’s done the job.
Just having a book full of happy positive stuff could get a bit dull after a while, but Smith is only doing this because she felt the need, because it’s an alternative that helps her deal with the bad in her life; the doubts, the fears, the black moods. And that may well be a reason I like it so much, because of that sense of shared experience, a kindred spirit, plagued by black moods, struggling at times with depression. And Smith has a handle on it, a way of coping, a method to look beyond it and celebrate the good stuff. It’s something we should all try harder to do.
When Smith does talk about the black stuff she does so in such an open and honest manner that you’re along with her for the ride, sharing and empathising all the way. There are pages here when the pain comes through so strongly, but Smith is seemingly determined to keep this comic positive, so they’re mentioned and then she moves on, the reader allowed to absorb her pain, and then pass to the next, lighter moment.
Don’t get me wrong, Smith really, really does try to put a positive spin on everything, and she really does find so much to celebrate in her life that the reader simply can’t help but smile along. But behind her ever present smile is a fragility and a sense of an artist plagued by doubt and fear and depression.
The thing is, I don’t think she needs to, she’s got a winning voice, an easy to like style, and after reading One Good Thing I think you’ll find, just like me, that there’s a smile on your face, because Rachael Smith’s intensity, positivity, and determination to enjoy this life, even knowing another black moment may well be round the corner is rather infectious.
When I reviewed The Way We Write I said she was one to watch, and One Good Thing is merely further proof of good things to come.
You can buy January’s One Good Thing from Rachael Smith’s Etsy shop, and I’m sure the March comic will appear on there very soon. You can find her at Rachael Smith Illustration and still read the One Good Thing strips at the blog.