A Mess of Everything

By Miss Lasko-Gross (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-56097-956-1

I’m appalled to say that I actually missed the release of this very talented creator’s book Escape From “Special”: the initial autobiographical foray and first of a planned trilogy of tomes following the life and progress of a smart and troublesome girl-child with overly-understanding parents surviving the blandly oppressive horrors of growing up normal.

So I approached this second collection of tales, ranging from single page statements to fully rounded short stories, with a completely open mind: and I’m pleased to say that A Mess of Everything is one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in years, a picture-perfect blend of honest reflection, graphic invention and shared fragile humanity from a woman who knows how to captivate an audience.

Melissa has reached those difficult teen years. She’s not pretty, not a follower, not a conformist: but she’s experiencing the feelings that every kid feels and dealing with it her way. As Grunge Music begins to dominate the teen-scene, Melissa has to deal with anxiety, a paucity of friends, drugs, booze, shoplifting, letting off steam, feeling horny, wanting a “true love” (Lord, didn’t we all?), second-hand eating disorders and having a Perfect Older Sister…

If it wasn’t for the mini-comics she can’t stop producing, life might be completely unbearable…

Miss Lasko-Gross has been producing graphic narrative for most of her life, editing the Pratt Institute’s Static Fish comicbook, working in Mauled, House of Twelve 2.0, Legal Action Comics, Aim and others whilst generally living the kind of life that inevitably leads to superbly readable books like this one.

Frank, funny and painfully familiar these beautifully realised vignettes of the kind of outsider-we’d-all-like-to-be are a worthy addition to the burgeoning pool of exceptional graphic autobiographies such as American Splendour and Persepolis. Unflinching, uncompromising, this adult look at growing should be compulsory reading for ever teenager – just to prove life has always been like that…

Now where can I lay my hands on that first volume…?

© 2009 Miss Lasko-Gross. All Rights Reserved.