Today I went out for lunch with a friend…that was sort of stretched beyond coffee time and before I knew it, I had to hurry to visit some stores for my grocery list before they closed. But then I hurried so hard, that I ended up having half an hour spare time. And what better to do with spare time than visit a book store?

I ended up with three totally different books. I’ll give the English/American versions of them if I can find them online.

I’m starting off with a heart-breaking graphic novel about a man who gets cancer. I frankly don’t know why I put myself through it. I’ve already seen it is gutting. But the way it’s drawn and the economical use of text; it is SOOOO beautiful. I know I’m going to have to read this with a box of tissues on the side and only when my hubs and kids are home so that I have some diversion from feeling blue. But this writer/cartoonist is SOOO indescribably good at portraying drama and evoking feelings from the reader that I couldn’t leave this book behind. I want to know how she does it. Learn from her. And the only way is biting though the story. But the beautiful watercolors in the book and her wonderful style are going to pull me through it, I expect.


It’s quite common in autobiographical comics that the greatest tragedies and threats and suffering possible in a human life features the story. For some reason comic style allows for immediate understanding that cannot be misread. It’s much more direct than literature. And also, comics as a style, because of their simplicity allow for space between the reader and the story. Some true dramas – like war, for instance, or child abuse – can only be visualised in comic form if it needs to be seen by people. Somehow the pictorial way of consuming a story is easier than just text. And even though there are tons of gross movies out there, it is still very hard to film drama that lasts for a long period of time. A movie needs an intro, a climax, a catharsis and peace and quiet. In autobiographic comics it doesn’t work that way. Because life doesn’t work that way. In human life, most dramas don’t end well at all. And somehow the audience doesn’t allow that sort of ending in a movie or even a book. The audience feels robbed of a happily ever after when the end of a movie’s sad. Just think back to your initial response to the movie “7” in which the final scene reveals the exessive drama and violence of that mad man. That sudden dramatic event at the END of the movie went totally against Hollywood rules. That movie stayed with you too long. I remember that my night out after seeing that wasn’t that much fun at all anymore. But that kind of drama is digestable in a comic for some reason. So, I’m going to be brave, dig up some tissues and cuddle up on the couch with my kids playing around me and go through the drama (althoug I almost wonder why…hehe).

The second book is lighter and brighter although it also contains a dark side. It’s called “Donker” (English: “Dark”) by Maaike Hartjes. It’s about the time she went to South Africa to teach some workshops and how she is confronted withthe issues that country has.

I like Maaike Hartjes’ work very much. Her style is extremely simple and straightforward and therefore very powerful. She doesn’t frantically look to make jokes about everything and dares to be serious and depressed in her work as well. In that sense I feel her work is more genuine than that of many other graphic novellists.

And then, to please my audience…a VERY happy and JOLLY end! I accidentally ran into a Dawn Sokol De Vries book in Dutch!!!


Well, do I personally like this book very much? To be honest, no. I don’t take to books that have these layouts ready for you to fill in at all. The only reason why I buy books like these, is because I want to be up-to-date with available books that touch on art journaling. Because, in a way it’s a rudimentary version of an art journal. This is a good book to have for my students…to show them how they can start if they’ve a little trouble getting started. This is an awesome book for starting art journalers and for those who step up from scrapbooking to art journaling. The pages are inviting and the exercises are very easy to start with. It’s called a doodle book, so no high expectations in the art-direction. And good paper for any sort of medium you’d want to work with. So, even though I’m not going to work in this book myself, professionally, as a teacher I like this book a lot.  The only criticism I have on the book, is that it asks its users to purchase quite some art supplies. And if you’re not sure if you’ll continue art journaling, you might want to be a bit careful with that, because many of them don’t come cheap. If you feel tempted to buy a thing or two that’s referred to in the book, try to go to a real art store and buy some single crayons and pencils in your favorite colours. Or else you’re stuck with complete sets you might never use.

So, hopefully having provided you with some inspiration for your reading list and having left you with some sound advice, I’m going to wish you a very happy weekend! Have fun and see you next week!