How To Be Happy. Finished 4-23-16, rating 2.5/5, graphic novel, 145 pages, pub. 2014
Eleanor Davis’s How to be Happy is the artist’s first collection of graphic/literary short stories. Davis is one of the finest cartoonists of her generation, and has been producing comics since the mid-2000s. Happy represents the best stories she’s drawn for such curatorial venues as Mome and No-Brow, as well as her own self-publishing and web efforts. Davis achieves a rare, subtle poignancy in her narratives that are at once compelling and elusive, pregnant with mystery and a deeply satisfying emotional resonance. Happy shows the full range of Davis’s graphic skills — sketchy drawing, polished pen and ink line work, and meticulously designed full color painted panels– which are always in the service of a narrative that builds to a quietly devastating climax.
I am not a graphic novel fan, but I tried this during the readathon and it was a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed the illustrations in this short story collection, but didn’t quite get the point of all of the stories. Davis tells you right from the beginning that this book has nothing to do with ‘how to be happy’ but I wish the stories had leaned a little more in that direction. But, again, not a regular graphic novel reader, so I could be way off in my assessment.