Like peeking inside a stranger’s diary…
I first became acquainted with Nicole Georges’s charming and whimsical artwork through Bitch magazine, to which Georges is (was?) a “friend and contributor.” Her annual Invincible Summer calendars (available on etsy) are simply adorable, brimming as they are with nonhuman animals both familiar (dogs, pigs, chickens) and unusual (sloths, whales, and – yes! – unicorns!). Her two Invincible Summer zine anthologies have been on my wishlist for years, and Christmas 2013 was the year that Volume 1 finally found its way under my tree. It had the distinction (however dubious) of being my first read of the new year!
Invincible Summer: An Anthology is like peeking inside a stranger’s diary. (Indeed, Georges refers to her zines as “Diaryland.”) Georges explores her life in Portland from the spring of 2001 through the summer of 2004-ish, with some sketches from the 2006 calendar thrown in for good measure. (Though it’s missing April and May! *frowny face*) Entries range from the mundane (daily chores, to-do lists, recipes; chickpea meatballs, must try!) to the less so (apparent PTSD in the wake of a car crash; “on car accidents” is especially haunting).
In particular, I was able to relate to the loneliness and alienation Georges felt after moving to a strange new city, as well as her outlandish dreams (most of them dental in nature), and vestigial tail obsession. Plus you have to love a zine that’s heavy on the animals: Georges’s dogs Beija (whom she describes as her “life partner”) and Penny make frequent appearances, and she also spends a month interning at Farm Sanctuary in California and later takes a summer-long job there. Through this, Georges addresses the horrors of animal agriculture, including egg production and animal auctions.
Since Georges is a self-described vegan, I was surprised to see honey included in one of her recipes. I don’t know, maybe this wasn’t as a contentious an issue among vegans 13 years ago? Was agave even widely available back then? Either way, nothing changes the fact that it’s always been derived from bees. You know, animals! (Ditto wool, which takes us down a whole ‘nother avenue of concerns.) Also, I felt horrible for backyard chicken Henrietta, who was attacked by her pen-mate Shirley no fewer than three times and eventually mauled to death by a raccoon. I’m not even sure I want to know what was going on there.
I suspect that Portland natives will likely get more out of the entries dealing with the city’s social scene; the more day-to-day stuff didn’t interest me quite as much. Also, some of the text was so small that it proved nearly impossible to read. Add to this the fact that some of the recollections seemed out of order, and it was sometimes hard to follow along.
I’m still on the fence about the second volume. While the artwork is adorable, the stories are somewhat hit and miss for me. Maybe I’ll skip right to Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir, which seems like it has a more cohesive narrative. Until then, there are always the Invincible Summer calendars.