By Dustin Cabeal
Personally, I find autobiographical comics, even the ones that are just loosely based, to be one of the bravest comics to create. The fully autobiographical stories obviously get a lot more credits for bravery.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, I don’t read solicits. I’m sure if some publishers knew that they’d either stop sending me books or just send me more and leave me along with all the extra emails. I’ll read anything, and I like to go in blindly. I understand though that I’m in the minority when it comes to this, which is why I write reviews for other people that want to be informed and have some hint of whether they should spend the time and money reading something. Let me tell you right now; I consume my entertainment like this in every capacity so even getting a review copy for free doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have just blindly dived into Sunburning.
As I mentioned, Sunburing is autobiographical from creator/liver of the story, Keiler Roberts. There are a lot of deep moments in Roberts life that are captured in her comics; from her being bipolar to a series of medical problems. Throughout that, all is her daughter, whose imagination and comments are hilarious and the perfect counter to Roberts personality. It’s very relatable if you have a child, but even if you don’t, you can appreciate the humor of a child asking what’s okay to do with a dead body if found in your yard. There is a great bit in which Roberts tangles with the idea of her daughter’s life being captured and put into comics, which may be read by her classmates.
I found this to be very interesting given it’s a relatively new thing to deal with in our society. Ultimately it seems as if a common ground was found in which her daughter wasn’t in the comic as much, but still present, much like her husband.
There are a lot of deep moments. It’s not all fun, and a lot of it seems difficult to tell strangers. I commend Roberts for being able to tell her story, but more than anything she’s just a damn good storyteller. The weird pacing and endings of the stories capture very human moments in everyone’s life regardless of if the specific content is relatable. Frankly, I’m not educated enough or experienced enough to comment or commend Roberts handling of bipolar and I would just feel like an asshat for saying shit like, “Way to go, you’re doing it” or whatever other lame shit some random dude on the internet would say. That and I probably already did that… I don’t re-read reviews either in case you were wondering.
The artwork is my bag. It’s not gorgeous, but it’s realistic. It’s not super detailed, and yet it's what’s there and not there that’s important. Roberts is also bold as fuck with the artwork, showing her own naked body and other private moments, like a trip to a Korean bath spa. The art is all in black and white which I’m a total sucker for; I know that a lot of average comic fans that are used to beefcake muscles and cheesecake women are going to be put off by this, but it’s gorgeous art and perfect for an autobiographical story.
I feel a bit late to this party, but shit happens. If you enjoy autobiographical comics, then you should give Sunburning a shot. I will be looking forward to future collections from Roberts because this was entertaining, informative, relatable and moving.
Creator: Keiler Roberts
Publisher: Koyama Press