Escape from "special"
A moving debut graphic novel about the pain of childhood.Fantagraphics Books is proud to follow up our launch of rising star R. Kikuo Johnson (author of the acclaimed Night Fisher) by showcasing Miss Lasko-Gross in her graphic- novel debut. Escape from "Special" is the coming-of-age story of Melissa, who we first meet as a small child and depart from at the end of the book just before she enters high school. Willful, funny, and perceptive, Melissa unsentimentally questions religion, identity formation, and treacherous female "friendships" as she tours with her parent's band, battles with her therapist, and bounces from school to school. Subjected to the whims of her bemused parents and, as the years pass, rejected by her peers, the opinionated Melissa copes by watching horror movies, psychosomatically vomiting to get out of temple, and making comics.Escape from "Special" recalls a not-too- distant time when girls flaunted their knock-off Esprit and shared best-friends necklaces broken in half. The semi-autobiographical story unfolds in a series of brief anecdotes, expressionistically dredged as if from memory, without self-regarding exposition and uncorrupted by a nostalgic haze. Drawn in black and white and washed in moody blues and full spectrum grays, Lasko-Gross's art, with its detailed backgrounds and expressive, clean-line characters, exquisitely conveys the story's blend of humor (sometimes of the gross-out variety) and keenly observed insights. Miss Lasko-Gross, who has the sensibility of a love child of Linda Barry and David B. midwifed by Judy Blume, has created a graphic novel that should appeal not only to the growing readers of graphic novels, but to teens grappling with similar unresolved questions.