Monday, June 24, 2013

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

Nicole Georges' memoir in comic strip format is sweetly endearing. In Calling Dr. Laura, Georges portrays her younger lesbian self in search of the truth about her father -- a man who had supposedly died when she was a baby. Along the way, she negotiates relationship minefields with her unpredictable mother and her surly girlfriend.
Georges' blended lesbian household includes an assortment of chickens
(kept outdoors, unless injured) and five dogs (sharing the bed here).
I learned new words from the cover of the book: 'zinester' (someone who creates zines), 'Portlandy' (of Portland) and 'femme gay' (a lesbian femme). These words aren't in the text, by the way. They are used by others to describe Georges, a lovable and multi-talented artist with retro sensibilities.

Fans of poultry will appreciate the details in the panels that include chickens. I smiled to see a speech balloon containing a small heart and an exclamation point: a chicken's response to being fed.
Interior scenes give a lovely sense of Georges' home.
Lots of black ink in the illustrations helps to set apart the later time frame from the earlier one.
Georges describes the time she used baked goods to lure a romantic interest into her home. "Chocolate peanut butter cups were a really popular item during this time, as they were the only fail-proof recipe in the vegan cookbook my Portland friends all owned. The book was from Canada, and had somehow gone awry in the conversion from metric. As a result, 'cookie bars' were hockey pucks, and brownies like biscuits. The peanut butter cups were a stroke of luck, delicious and unscathed." (The cookbook isn't named, but my guess is that it's likely How It All Vegan, by the tattooed, vintage-attired Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.)
Flashbacks to Georges' childhood are done in a different, less realistic style with lots of white.
Nicole's much older sister is also a lesbian.
Georges' sister Liz did not have a good experience coming out to their mother. "'The verbal beating of my life,' as Liz recalls it. Liz and Mom stopped speaking shortly thereafter. I didn't imagine my coming out would go any better, and so... I didn't tell my mom." Secrets always make life difficult, however, and Georges eventually figures out how to deal with them.

Calling Dr. Laura is a heartfelt, funny and charming memoir.

Readalikes: Fun Home (Alison Bechdel); Likewise (Ariel Schrag); The Floundering Time (Katy Weselcouch); The Imposter's Daughter (Laurie Sandell); and Drinking at the Movies (Julia Wertz).

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