"Her Name Was Prudence"
a mini minicomic review. (maybe this is a thing I will start to do?)
I’ve had an art-crush on Cathy G. Johnson's work for years, and I fell hard once again when I picked up her new minicomic, “Her Name Was Prudence”, at SPX a couple months ago.
Cathy pays careful attention to material and craft in her book-making. The covers of “Her Name Was Prudence” are wrap-around 2-color screenprints, it’s bound with a simple saddle-stitch, and the interior holds a couple of surprises: first, the heartbreaking effect of the vellum endpapers, and next, the alluring dissonance between the soft & smudgy pencil drawing style and the gloss & sheen of the paper it’s printed on. It’s exactly what a mini-comic should be: fairly cheaply & easily reproducible but always evidencing the maker’s hand.
But more importantly, the narrative acutely captures and critiques the social and emotional landscape for young adults living (or perhaps simply trying to survive) in urban areas. The story revolves around the main character, Soomin, and her fascination with William Jameson’s poem “God’s Sorrow.” It explores the ways in which Soomin struggles and then begins to realize she has the means to escape the familiar yet destructive behaviors and people that are entrapping her, to rebuild her own world.
Cathy’s pencil drawings are rich with texture and shadow, and well rendered environments & spaces. The composition of each panel, page, page spread, and page-turn augments the tone and pacing of the narrative. The dialogue & characterization are on-point. I feel like I’ve met these kids before. I feel like I am this kid. All in all, this short story encapsulates an experience and mood that feels very close and real to me. I felt both pain and relief in seeing this (captured so well! for the first time!) representation of the identities and stumblings-around of twenty-somethings like me & the people I’m close to.
Do your self a favor: the second printing is now for sale at Cathy’s store.