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Gabrielle Bell's New Collection Makes Voyeurs of Us All

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READING an autobiographical comic is like meeting someone new. It's rarely love at first sight: More often it takes time to decide how you feel, suss out what kind of person you're dealing with, and see how your sensibilities and values interact with theirs.

Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs didn't charm me right off the bat—her collection of autobiographical strips begins with a long account of the end of her relationship with director Michel Gondry, a story I found aimless and meandering. But slowly and surely, Bell grew on me: She's an antisocial weirdo who doesn't like to leave the house, and her close focus on the minutia of her life is unassumingly revealing.

Nothing remarkable happens here (a globetrotting relationship with a famous director proves the exception, not the rule): She has a boyfriend who lives across the country; she frets about money and takes awkward speaking gigs at comic book shows and college; and she builds herself a home Bikram studio by stringing blankets around a space heater. The book's finest strip is a comic-about-making-comics, a fictionalized account of Bell agreeing to adapt Valerie Solanas' famous SCUM Manifesto ("the male is a biological accident"); also charming, a story where Bell admits to be being tired of drawing herself, so she dresses herself in white from head to toe and goes out into a snowstorm. By the time I finished the book—in one long reading session—I felt like I'd spent the afternoon with a friend, albeit one who should leave the house a little more often.

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