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Daddy's Girl: Comics Paperback – June, 1996
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Daddy's Girl is a powerful book that uses a childlike graphic style to explore the adolescence of a young girl, Lily, whose life is being destroyed by sexual abuse. Drechsler pulls no punches in her depiction of incest, and many scenes are hard to read, but this book shows that comics can be a vehicle for serious subjects; the drawings pull the reader into her world more completely than the written word ever could. Drechsler's depiction of childhood is perfect, and there are happy moments within the horror of Lily's life. In one chapter, Lily and a friend contemplate suicide, then walk into the woods, away from their problems. In the last panel, as they sit eating tiny wild strawberries, there is a moment of hope which resonates long after the book is finished.
From Publishers Weekly
Drechsler's quiet but formidable reputation in alternative comics can be traced to a series of melancholic short strips dealing with the incestuous victimization of a young girl by her father. This collection includes those dark tales as well as others that relate the painful experiences of Lily as she deals with both the usual problems of teenage adjustment and the ominous presence of her father. In "Sixteen," Lily's efforts to be social veer into an episode of sexual degradation and teenage cruelty. But Drechsler's touching stories of familial gloom also feature veins of subtle irony and hope-laden humor. In "Helping the Poor," Lily's self-righteously benevolent mother insists the family deliver gifts to a poor black family, and the delightful encounter between the children of the families reveals Drechsler's knack for wit and gentle pathos. Her drawings are characterized by an expressive linear flair and dark, vividly patterned forms-a stylish and poetic example of nuanced cartoon realism perfectly attuned to these affecting, humane vignettes.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
This book shows masterfully how Lil tries to keep her father away, understand what her father has done, blames herself, and keeps the secret. The father's words, the girl's thoughts, and the ways the abuse affects other spheres of the girl's life ring 100% true to me.
The drawings are black and white, pen and ink--they look like etchings. THey're evocative and terrific.
The abuse in the stories is treated matter-of-factly, which makes it all the more shocking. The very first story of the collection, "Visitors in the Night," introduces us right away to this approach to the subject matter, as it begins with Lily and her sister Pearl in bed one night, arguing back and forth before they go to sleep. As they are drifting off, their father comes in to wake Lily up and undoes his robe. Before the reader even has time to process what is happening, the girl is forced to commit a sexual act for her father, and her reaction to what happens hints that this instance was not the first time her father molested her.
But the abuse itself is usually not central to the stories in this collection, which mainly deal with the girl's attempts to cope with this abuse. At various points throughout the book, she is left paralyzed on her bathroom floor after her father bursts in on her, she contemplates suicide to avoid having to deal with the situation ever again, and she begins laughing uncontrollably at one point while her father is molesting her, leading him to beat her.
These varied reactions to the abuse she is undergoing illustrate her fractured state of mind and the psychological damage done to her as a result of the continued molestation. In one story called "Marvin," Lily is less concerned with her father's abuse than she is with the fate of her dog, who tries to protect her from the abuse and is thrown across the room into the wall. In "Drummer Boy," Drechsler shows how abuse affects the other relationships in an adolescent's life, when Lily begins to fall for a boy at school but doesn't know how to react when the boy looks at her in a romantic way, because she equates that look with her father's sexual assaults.
Throughout each of these stories, Drechsler's art is thick with detail, both in the characters and in the backgrounds and scenery around them. The deep black line work criss-crosses every page heavily, filling every last corner of each panel with ink. These powerful brushstrokes add weight to the subject matter, making each image resound and seem more real to the reader.
The ominous darkness of the artwork makes each scene even more wrought with tension, so you feel as the main character feels, always waiting, when the father appears in a scene, for the other shoe to drop. The tension is particularly palpable in the only color story in the collection, "Constellations," when one of Lily's friends spends the night with her so they can look at the stars. The early scene with her friend's arrival is happy and bright, but as night falls the colors fade ever so slightly, and her father's presence looms forebodingly.
Daddy's Girl is not an easy read or a fun read. Its subject matter is as heavy and dark as the artwork, and the harsh reality found in its pages could make some readers uncomfortable. But it is a worthwhile read, for it portrays a subject that the author clearly feels strongly about so brilliantly and elegantly that readers cannot help but empathize.
As far as the story goes, it seems a little too familiar at times, but then there's always something in common in stories about abuse. The ending of the longer story is what sets this apart from the others, the author having come up with a way for the character to rise above the abuse and to become her own person again in an original way.
Daddy's Girl is a collection of comic stories following a young girl as she tries to cope with her father's molestations and her relationships with her peers.
The awkwardness of childhood is so perfectly re-created in this work. I cannot recommend it more highly.
Also, check out Debbie's comic "Nowhere". It's done in a beautiful two color style, but the subject matter is similiar.