Scheherazade (2004)

The graphic novel is clearly a genre that I love, and I often wish that I read most by female comics authors. This past year I discovered both Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry, to my very great pleasure. This explains my impulse to pick up Scheherazade: Comics about Love, Treachery, Mothers, and Monsters, a "women's anthology" of comics fragments and vignettes edited by Megan Kelso, on a speed-browse through the library stacks.

Sadly, reading it has left me with very little to say about it, which is the most faintly damning comment I can make on a book. The strongest piece is the first, Andrice Arp's "The Fisherman and the Genie," which riffs directly on 1001 Nights and the Scheherazade theme by playing with modes of presenting stories within stories within the comics format (how do you lay this out on the page?). In moments of stress, Arp's characters often make reference to other, thematically related stories and then proclaim (to my delight) "This is no time for stories!"

Many of the other pieces are too straightforward to do justice to the innovation of their subject matter (which, the claim implicitly goes, is too often ignored by male writers and artists). Others are so fragmentary as to baffle my attempts to discern their sequential qualities, make meaning, or comprehend the nature of their devices. Too often I felt that I had gotten too little of a story (the peril of anthologies) without feeling a desire to seek out more (which is, in fact, at least part of their purpose).

Scheherazade: Comics about Love, Treachery, Mothers, and Monsters
ed. Megan Kelso