Upon hearing about our library's need for zines, Virginia Paine hand-delivered a stack of her diary comics to our office, tucked inside of a paper bag package. When I arrived at the office the next day, I was pleased to find the parcel sitting on my desk. I read all of them before the day was over.
There is something about an engaging diary comic that I just love. I think we all enjoy a good sneak peek into a stranger's life. When that peek is complete with hand-drawn journals and clever musings, I can't get enough. Paine's diary comics are called Milkyboots and they chronicle her life here in Portland, OR. Her most recent diary comic, Milkyboots Number Ten, takes place from December 2009-March 2010. Paine draws and writes about a winter spent feeling out of place while visiting family in Wisconsin.
Paine goes out with an old friend while in Wisconsin and deals with a couple sleazy guys at a bar. I love the panels pictured above. Paine and her friend do everything they can to get rid of this clueless dude who sees no problem with asking them about their sexuality and for their phone numbers. Most of us have lied about our sexuality or about having a partner when approached by someone at a bar in order to get away from them, right? She lays out this all-too-familiar scene perfectly: the body language, the typical clueless dude who can't take a hint. And she leaves room to include a side note/rant, in which she asks why it's social acceptable for a drunk dude to ask her about her sexuality.
Paine's visit to Wisconsin will resonate with anyone who leads a life that their family doesn't understand. In the panels pictured above, she speaks of her decision to refrain from telling her grandparents about her girlfriend, because she'd like to maintain contact with them. She also writes about her parents being accepting of her life (as a queer, vegan artist), but of her desire to have them understand why she lives the way that she does:
...but I want, have wanted, always, for them to understand. Understand why I live this way, that I am not weird, that there are lots of people like me, that you *can't* just get a job in Portland. This is what confounds me the most - their bewilderment at how I am, inspite of this being the way they raised me. So I have their reluctant acceptance, their obvious discomfort when I mention my girlfriend, or talk about how eating cheese makes me feel gross, or when they suggest maybe I should just-get-a-job and stop trying so hard to make the comics thing work.
Whether you're familiar with family struggles similar to this, or just looking for a diary comic with wit and charm, you'll find something to enjoy in Milkyboots. If you're in Portland, come by the library to check out some of Virginia's zines. Otherwise, you can order them on her etsy.