You know how friends can be. You meet this stranger and a really good relationship develops and then a change happens. You’re out of touch before you know it. Time passes and then by miracle or a plan you meet and a feeling of happiness wells up as things pick up right where they left off. That’s how I feel reading Love Letters To Jane’s World. Jane and her creator Paige Braddock appeared in my life fifteen, maybe sixteen, years ago. The exact year and details are unimportant. Jane was funny yet also self depracating. Her laid back attire matched an often laid back personality that emphasized her occasional high strung bouts and, like Lucy Ricardo, Jane often unwittingly found herself in zany adventures like being swept down a river while trapped inside an old camper. Playing Ethel to Jane’s Lucy was Chelle. Unlike Vivian Vance who was under contract to downplay her good looks, Chelle wore sunglasses and tight leather after Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity. Jane came with an extended cast of characters*, most of whom were either queer or supportive women. Then there were Ethan, Bud, and Archie, respectively Jane’s roommate, cousin, and coworker, alternating between confidant and comedic counterpoint. Everyone loved Jane even if they were sometimes exasperated with her behavior. The importance of a funny, loveable lesbian lead character surrounded by so many other lesbian and bisexual women and some supportive straight guys at a time when LGBT characters in mainstream comics were rare can’t be underscored enough.
Like I said though, sometimes you and your friends part ways for a while. So it was with Jane and I. Life took me in other directions. Knowing my Jane’s World comics were safely stored in a box together with my Strangers In Paradise gave me a good feeling.
One example of Braddock’s deft cartooning.
For the past several weeks I’ve felt irritated a lot. I know many of us have felt irritated since the election. Irritated – that’s a mild word for that feeling, isn’t it? So that prolonged sense of WTF-ness along with some everyday irritation made a long string of grumpy bouts. Then I started to read this new collection and it felt like visiting with old friends and picking right up where you left off. There was Jane again catching up everyone in her crazy antics and also Jane haplessly trying to navigate her way to love and romance. My mood lightened with new chapters. I smiled coming upon new hijinks, meeting new characters, and Braddock’s unexpected twists in her storytelling that I don’t want to spoil because writing comedy in comics is difficult even though Braddock makes it look easy. That implicit nod to Charlie Brown toward the end made me giggle. My not now secret crushes on Bud and Ethan returned and now there’s Ethan’s gay twin brother Evan! And discovering Braddock letting Jane find what she’s been looking for all this time after putting her through the comedy wringer makes me very happy! And all of it resting on the underlying important message of love and extended family!
Maybe this is less a proper review than my own love letter to Jane. Yes, I do love Jane and I hope you will too if you read her adventures!
* There’s a handy illustration of all the characters in this collection so don’t worry!
Look for Love Letters To Jane’s World at your local comic shop or bookstore or find it at Amazon.