Ink in Water: Graphic Novel exploring how body image can fuck up reality

Preorders available for this book - Release Date 10/01/17

Facts: I am a fat bearded man. I have been fat for a long time. I carry myself with pride and have come to an understanding with myself that I am good how I am. I can be more healthy and strive towards that, but socially, I am aware of myself and not bothered... For the most part.

While the bearded part didn't come until much later, I was always the "Husky" kid (I hate that term). I remember the first time I stressed about my size. Seventh grade was particularly hard for all the kids my age, new classes in a new school had all kids pushing boundaries and testing the power structures. One particular young lady made a few comments about my t-shirt being pushed out by my belly which embarrassed me greatly. I spent the next year holding my body certain directions so that my belly never touched the front of my shirt visibly, or holding the hem of my shirt. I wasn't fat, just a little early teen chubby. The idea stuck though and my brain was rewired to be conscious of my size and shape.

It is a snowball: One person caused a reaction by me which added to the growing body shame I carried for many years. I owned that shame, kept it under cover and chose not to ever mention it. I remember reading books where characters found unusual diets, tips, and tricks, or even mild disorders as ways to make themselves "better". I admit, I tried a great deal of them. I sometimes wonder how many books folks like myself turned into instruction manuals when the original premise was to inform/scare/warn against.

Good thing for me to fail at I suppose. I sucked at sports and dietary self-harm.

It took a long time to get to the "fuck your opinion" stage of my life, but I am glad I made it here even though I have to talk myself into it sometimes. Now all I have to worry about is the people who cross the street when they see a big bearded dude walking down the sidewalk. I am a teddy beard goddamn it, but one cannot help other folk's triggers.

"Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir (or how I kicked anorexia's ass and embraced body positivity)"

Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir  (Davis - Kettner)
272 pages
New Harbinger Publications
ISBN-10: 1626258317
ISBN-13: 978-1626258310

Okay. That is a mouthful of a title, but mouthful, in this case, is a good thing as it is highly descriptive and shines a spotlight on the topic rather than obscuring it. Written by Lacy J Davis and Illustrated by Jim Kettner, this Graphic Novel memoir covers approximately a 10-year span of time as Lacy moves from confident and rebellious punk to Crossfit lover and guru. The majority of the book follows the dark years in between which are the entire point of this story.

After some commentary from a boyfriend about body size and shape of someone he knows, Lacy interprets the comments as directed towards her, even tangentially. The result is a depressed obsession with dieting, health food, and exercise that could have killed her. She eats very little or very specific foods, then over exercises to burn even more calories. Cardio Catharsis is her favorite medicine. She ends up a walking skeleton and thought everything was fine.

After hearing health concerns from people she trusts and being put on temporary leave from work, Lacy joins Over Eaters Anonymous, and 12 steps through her troubles with others who have a myriad of eating disorders. She deludes herself about her progress, she allows life to deter her from forward motion, she backpedals then moves forward before backpedaling again.

Moving through life like a confused toddler is part of our graceless human condition.

Textually, this book is easily consumed, but the subject matter makes it a little unapproachable. Starting with the cover, the deep details in the subtitle, while serving one descriptive purpose, might also fight against itself with out the help of vocal fans. Advising this is a book about "kicking anorexia's ass" might deter a significant number of people from reading it. 

DON'T be that deterred person. Read this then be vocal. The story here is amazing and inspiring. It is presented in a manner which flows well and ensures it is not a chore. Lacy's story is a roller coaster of emotions, and even the parts which might be funny are hard to laugh at. I did cheer once or twice and every time I saw Powell's Books I got a bit happy.

The artwork in this book is phenomenal. Just the right amount of detail where needed, and lacking where it would only distract or be wasted. Some of the most impressive panels were areas where Lacy's brain is on fire, and the smoke and electrical wires are bursting forth into the universe. Interestingly,  Kettner plays a key role in the story. As a Graphic Artist, drawing web comics and media, he and Lacy hit it off and he spends a large amount of meta time in the comic along side her in a role of support, understanding, and unconditional love. 

This Graphic Novel is highly recommended, end of story. 

This Graphic Novel was supplied for review purposes by the publisher or author. If the topic of this novel resonates with you, then who gives a rats ass who provided it.


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