Jennifer’s Journal: The Life of a SubUrban Girl, Volume 1*
Release Date: Available Now
Credits: Jennifer Cruté, words and art
Price: $4.95 from Rosarium Publishing
*A note: This book is cute, and really awesome, but it’s not for kids. Trust me.
The first volume of Jennifer’s Journal: The Life of a SubUrban Girl is just that: an intimate look into the events and experiences that shaped the life of the artist/writer of the book, Jennifer Cruté. From the artist:
Jennifer’s Journal; The Life of a SubUrban Girl, depicts my struggles with work, depression, sex and sexuality, and religion while poking fun at the stereotypes I encounter along the way. Simply drawn characters with round figures help to tell the complex and contradictory life situations we all endure and delight in.
I’ve long been of the mind that there aren’t nearly enough comics available both created by and about black women. This year, some amazing comics with black women as contributors have come on the scene, and fans have rejoiced. I think that Jennifer’s Journal: The Life of a SubUrban Girl belongs in that celebrated number.
In Jennifer’s Journal, Cruté gives us an up close and personal view of the things that have shaped her life. Cruté has a way with storytelling, and she takes the reader on an enjoyable journey through time and space that chronicles her relationships with family, her struggles with spirituality and sex, her dedication to her art, and all-too-real depictions of human-to-human interactions. In fact, I think that the close examination of humanity is one of the strongest selling points of Jennifer’s Journal. Nobody in Cruté’s life has been perfect–indeed, everyone from family to friends to spiritual beings are flawed and true to those imperfections. Cruté does a very good job of showing us just what people do without their carefully established filters.
As you can see by the art, Cruté’s story is full of whimsy and a hefty dose of cute. She also plays around with narrative form in creative ways. The story is, for the most part, chronological. But we are treated to no small bit of family history and several asides (like the author’s parents close encounter with some friendly white locals in 1970’s Georgia) that all mesh well and help us to really know and understand Cruté by the end of the book.
Also, I would be doing myself and you all a disservice if I don’t mention a part of the book that really stood out for me: the depictions of growing up as a black child as intimately human, and full of the kinds of trials that all humans suffer through. Cruté’s relationship with her brother was touching, her stories of her father’s and grandfather’s misgivings were angering, and the resilience of her mothers and grandmothers were inspiring. Cruté pulls no punches. We witness her move through interactions that are all too familiar many black children–family upheaval, poverty in close proximity, social gatherings that were full of love and music and food, being made to feel inferior by people for one very particular reason, and struggling the traditions that are central to many black homes. These stories endear Cruté and her struggle to the Black reader, because they are relatable on many levels.
I’m going to put my foot down: If you like comics, well-told, interesting examinations of people, and insight into what it was like to be a Black child in the 70’s and 80’s, you need to read Jennifer’s Journal Vol. 1. Like, right now. Stop stalling and get it–you can cop it from Rosarium Publishing.