Comics Time: Mattie & Dodi

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Mattie & Dodi

Eleanor Davis, writer/artist

self-published, 2006

40 pages

$5

Buy it from Little House when its shop re-opens in June

This one didn’t quite do it for me. Partially I think it’s because Davis’s relatively realist story this time around, about a working-class woman who’s forced to take care of her elderly, bed-ridden grandfather and her very young and withdrawn little sister, lacks a certain level of mystery compared to the fables and fantasies I’m more familiar with from her. The problem is that Davis tries to apply some of the same storytelling techniques here that she uses in her fantasy stories–mysteriously silent characters, long wordless stretches, a touch of the monstrous (in the form of the moaning grandfather), matter-of-fact nudity–and they end up overwhelming any sense that this is real life carefully observed. (She isn’t helped by the hard-to-swallow obliviousness with which she imbues her main character.) Her cartooning is as strong as ever, with dynamic figures and an at times stunning selection of body language for her characters, but an overuse of zip-a-tone, strangely inorganic lettering and slightly over-animated facial expressions push it just a bit into slickness. It’s funny, I remember reading in Gary Groth’s interview with Davis in Mome that this was the comic that really made him sit up and take notice, but for me it feels like a detour from the more fruitful avenues of expression she’s pursued before and since.

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