zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, April 21, 2008

Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag


via Feminist Review by Feminist Review on 4/3/08
By Ariel Schrag

Combining her first two autobiographical graphic novel adventures through ninth and tenth grade in one sweet volume, Awkward and Definition represents Ariel Schrag's complicated life at Berkeley High School. Written and drawn during the summer after each school year, both Awkward and Definition perfectly detail the insanities and nostalgic quirky pleasures of high school life. From intense note-passing in class about same-sex attraction, to getting stoned at concerts and trying to play it cool in front of the parents, Schrag keeps each chapter true to life and revealing of awkward teen culture.

I'll admit that at first reading Awkward was, well, awkward. Schrag's shaky handwriting is crammed on the page in such small font that, at times, I thought maybe my bad eyesight was a sign that I was too old to be reading the tiny letters. With time and the turning of each pager, however, Schrag's scrawling letters become more bold and stable as she matures on the page. Awkward moves from best friend problems to Juliette Lewis obsessions and the troubles of dating grungy boys.

While Awkward reveals both the madness of freshman year and the uncertainties of growing up, Definition shows how a young punk girl can change into a complex, intelligent, and confident bisexual. In her sophomore work, Schrag details her growing obsessions with chemistry, Gwen Stefani, and figuring out her sexuality. And although her life may seem complicated and awkward, Schrag's cool and confidant center ooze out into the steady and assured drawings of her sophomore year. From turning 16 to getting recognition for her first comic, Awkward, the pages of Definition show a definite maturation in Schrag's lovable character and artistic work.

Awkward and Definition have previously been available separately, but now the first two year's of Schrag's high school life can be read in one volume. The two years read seamlessly, and compliment each other in their development of artistic talent and storyline. Humorous, honest, and engagingly simple, Schrag's work is the definition of genuine talent.

Review by Chelsey Clammer

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