Cari is one of the studio tenants at Gather. She has an MFA in poetry and teaches comic book classes at NC State as well as in her studio office at Gather through her business Bee Loud Comic Studio. Though she really loves doing this work in person, and has created special accommodations to make sure the experience is super cozy and comfortable for people of all stripes (she has a passion for helping those on the spectrum), she is currently doing remote classes until we can be back to the space.
At Gather, she has created a little library outside her office door where she leaves out graphic novels to lend out to readers. My daughter has benefited from this as well as countless others. I asked her to recommend some comforting choices for people to check out at home. Here is her response:
“Michelle recently asked me to recommend a few graphic novels that we can find comfort in during our current time. I thought this was a great idea, and there are so many amazing books! And, honestly, so many different ways to find comfort.
Books directed at children are in some ways predictable: there won’t be a surprise amount of violence, but they are, also like children themselves, unpredictable in their boundless imagination, sense of wonder, penchant for wild adventure and curiosity in the face of beauty.
These books are balm for uncertainty. They are reminders of community, family, friendship, and that part of your heart that can always grow to hold more love. In this time where we are all becoming more aware of neighbors, strangers, even our friends, our relatives, and their lives, these stories grow even more warm, delightful, and relevant.
The stories are all inclusive, featuring a wide cast of characters representing and normalizing differences in race, physical abilities, and LGBTQ+ families. I cannot think of another author of gentle adventures for all ages that includes casual depictions of wheelchair use and sign-language. I love these books. I feel seen reading these books. I can imagine myself as a character in these pages, which is a rare comfort itself.
Moomin has been a phenomenon in the Scandinavian countries for decades, but was only recently translated into English. There are parks dedicated to the characters, and toys, and lines of home goods. There is good reason for all this love. These characters are mischievous, but also cozy, kind and human. They are the embodiment of Hygge (hoo-gah, the mood of being cozy), and perfect imperfection. Reading this collection of comic strips, you’ll laugh and you’ll sigh, but you’ll also find yourself asking big questions of philosophy and life.
Friendship is a journey, not an object one owns, and this book reminds me of all the journeys with all the friends I’ve grown alongside over the years. This adventurous book that starts with young friends riding bikes is filled with beautifully illustrated night skies, gorgeous water, fish made of stars, unexpected reflections, and of course, talking bears. The story is at once fanciful and realistic, and the journey unfolds like a daydream – a daydream I find myself revisiting over and over again with time.