Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
By Lucy Knisley
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
A funny and whip-smart new book about the institution of marriage in America told through the lens of her recent engagement and wedding…. The graphic novel tackles the all-too-common wedding issues that go along with being a modern woman: feminism, expectations, getting knocked over the head with gender stereotypes, family drama, and overall wedding chaos and confusion.
I’ll have to admit that I was reluctant to read a 300 page graphic novel about the trials and tribulations of marriage. I came out of Something New with a changed perspective. A beautifully written autobiographical account of Lucy Knisley’s own marriage, and primarily the year leading up to it, enriches the reading experience. The ups and downs of the “marriage process” is broken down into each of its individual components, such as choosing a wedding dress, making this an easy and often insightful look into one of the oldest ceremonies in the world. Overall, the grand design of Knisley, no stranger to the comic world, shines brightly and is a delightful read.
The writing in Something New is downright impressive. Well researched and measured, written primarily while the real life marriage was being planned, the writing bounces with spontaneity and delight. In fact, the writing is so from the heart that you feel the emotional rollercoaster ride Knisley must have been feeling at the time. As her husband, John, writes the afterword, one only feels the love that pours from the pages. Despite the doubts, fears, and pressure, love wins through in the end. Remarkably concise, except where discombobulation is apropos, so to speak, Knisley pours herself into the words and comments. Inclusive to the stupendous story of her wedding, the novel also is quite informative, especially from the female point of view – the problems with buying dresses, etc. It touches upon the topics of marriage ceremony, historical notes, origins of practices and different cultural traditions which is quite a treat.
Artistically, the work is a superb piece of graphic design. Deft lines, and well placed panels mark this as a high point in Knisley’s career. The often rambling, stream of consciousness drawing is a rapid fire burst to the face, with everything from intimate scenes to chaotic flowcharts. Skillfully executed, the inking is a beautiful touch, and the color, whilst muted, focuses the reader on the flow of the page, which only in a few places requires the dreaded arrow to the next panel. The panels themselves follow a grid pattern, are easy to read, and only contain what is necessary to it, which allows the reader to sit through the 300 pages of fine artwork in a single hour. The chapters are well divided, each containing a snippet of information, before returning to the main thematic elements. The draftsmanship throughout Something New is consistent, and lively. Knisley deserves kudos for such a remarkable piece.
Together, the art and words come together to create a full whole. The plot is, well as tight as marriage preparations get, well crafted, dividing the graphic novel into easily digestible chapters, which are further divided into books, which make this a fantastic pickup read. As mentioned previously, the graphic novel is well researched (insofar as autobiographical graphic novels can be researched) and contains lots of extraneous information that will entertain and educate. The art of drawing and writing, blend seamlessly in this modern day marriage between two atheists struggling to overcome and incorporate their values and differing cultural norms into a cohesive whole. Over the course of the work, one actually begins to feel the emotional angst of Knisley as the marriage day looms closer and closer.
Something New offers something new to graphic novel lovers of all cast and form. It’s witty, heart wrenching, full of surprises and keeps you hanging off the edge of your seat – all from a graphic novel about marriage. There is something for everyone is this well-crafted work of art. What you can pull out of this work surprised even me. Thankfully my reluctance was overcome as this was a remarkable work that I’d highly recommend to graphic novel lovers of all types.