Tag Archives: Jade Sarson

The Weight of Expectation – a review

This is a very small, very powerful comic. Writer Oli Williams and illustrator Jade Sarson explore how stigma associated with bodyweight and size impacts on people. The visual storytelling here is brilliant, and gives a real sense of an experience that is felt in the flesh.

I did not find this an easy read, and at the same time, I found it enormously helpful. I’ve dealt with fat shaming and body loathing my whole life. I saw something of my own experiences reflected here. That was both painful and cathartic. At the moment, I’m about the smallest I’ve ever been, and as someone small enough to buy regular high street clothes I know that I effectively have more thin privilege than not. But at the same time, like some of the characters in this comic, the words of fatness are written into my flesh through years of struggle, and I cannot look at my own body without seeing that.

One of the things I really love about Jade’s work here, is her ability to depict large people without making them grotesque or ridiculous. The idea that people are intrinsically loveable, that human bodies are loveable and acceptable is a theme I see reoccurring in her work and I am deeply glad of it.

More about The Weight of Expectation here – http://teahermit.co.uk/

For the love of God, Marie!

Some books are not easily described, so as I fumble my way towards a review, let me start by clarifying that this is a brilliant, surprising sort of book and I really liked it.

For the love of God, Marie! is a graphic novel by Jade Sarson. Page by page it is indeed a comic, but there’s a lot of it and a proper novel shape, so ‘graphic novel’ seems the right term. The main character, Marie, starts out in the 6th form of a Catholic school in the 60s, and we follow her through her trials and adventures into the 90s.

It’s a beautifully drawn book. There are some manga influences, so for the less manga literate odd things (like being able to see where a person’s eyebrows are regardless of where their hair is) may cause confusion. You have to trust the artist and trust that what she’s showing you is more important than a literal representation. I found it a visually accessible book, although Jade does challenge you to keep up with the action sometimes and doesn’t spell everything out. She uses a fairly limited pallet to remarkable effect and she really, really knows what people look like.

I knew before I got the book that it had a significant amount of erotic content. I’d expected it to be a romp, but once it gets going, the story I found touching through to heartbreaking. Marie sets out to love everyone, especially the people deemed least loveable. There’s an innocence to her, an obliviousness to the idea of sexual sin. However, as a Catholic schoolgirl, with Catholic parents, she’s subjected to continual humiliation and slut shaming because she loves too much. Misunderstood, she doesn’t get any easy time of it, and fate plays some cruel tricks on her.

Representations of polyamorous folk in literature are few. Promiscuous men (and that’s not the same thing) aren’t so unusual, but women who are plural in their loving, don’t show up much. This is the least erotic book I’ve encountered with a polyamorous lead; a bisexual character and a woman whose life and sexual identity don’t stop in response to motherhood or becoming middle aged. I wish there was more of this sort of thing.

There’s a naked woman on the cover of the book. If naked people having a good time offend you, then you won’t like it. We live in a culture that fears sex, is horrified by it, doesn’t want people under the age of 18 looking at it but will cheerfully show them depictions of war and murder. This has always confused me. But then, I found a lot to empathise with in Marie, and I’d rather live in a world where no one is condemned for loving too much.

More about the book here – http://www.myriadeditions.com/books/for-the-love-of-god-marie/

Recent reading

Web of Life – Yvonne Ryves

This is a fascinating little book that offers a way of exploring a Pagan path that is both grounded in tradition, and innovative. The Web Yvonne Ryves describes is a flexible tool that any reader could adapt to suit their own needs and practice. You could use it as a focus for meditation, as a form of divination, as a focus for other work, the basis for an art piece… it can become whatever you need it to be.

The book is ideal for someone fairly new to their path who has already figured out that they need to be Pagan on their own terms, but could still do with something to help guide them on their journey.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/shaman-pathways-web-life


Worlds Apart, by Jenni Shell.

I can honestly say I’ve never read anything else quite like this. It’s a mix of autobiography (Jenni Shell) and something more like biography (her mother). Jenni’s mother had serious mental health problems that dominated the author’s childhood and shaped many of her life choices. The need to understand, and the longing to help are central to the book. What comes of the quest is a complex spiritual journey that took Jenni towards teaching spiritual things. I found it a fascinating read – knowing nothing about the author. The books throws you in at the deep end repeatedly with life changes and sudden introductions of people, it’s not the smoothest book ever, but that didn’t put me off, just bemused me now and then.

There are two threads I really want to comment on – one is what Jenni has to share about mental health, and the nature of reality, and what happens to those of us who may deviate from consensus reality. Without any spoilers, what happened to her mother really challenges the idea of how and why we label people, and I think that’s very important. When we deny someone their truth and their reality, we may make them more ill than they would otherwise have been.

The other thread is one of ancestry, and how issues, events, stories and skeletons can have an impact for generations to come. Our relationship with our ancestors fascinates me, and what Jenni has written is a clear case study of how we can end up living out the consequences of other people’s lives and stories.

I don’t think this is a book for everyone, but if autobiography, family drama and spiritual questing speak to you subjects, then I recommend checking this out.

More about the book here – http://www.orderofthewhitelion.com/worlds-apart.php


Cafe Suada, Jade Sarson

I picked up the first issue of graphic novel Cafe Suada at Asylum in Lincoln as author/artist Jade Sarson was there with a table and it looked like the kind of thing the entire household would go for. It is, so we followed through by reading everything on the webcomic site. This is a charming, funny, silly, warmhearted, human, tea laden bit of loveliness. It is the book equivalent of sitting down with your favourite brew and putting your feet up. Although of course you can get the book and put your feet up with tea, and that would be about perfect.

On the technical side, (excuse me while I geek out about technical comic things) this comic has some inspired layouts, and the visual use of text is brilliant. I’m also a huge fan of the incredibly nuanced facial expressions, which come alongside gloriously overblown and deliberately ridiculous facial expressions. There’s also a lot of whimsy – much of it involving a duck, a koala bear and the little chicken things you can see on the cover. There’s romance, and tea war, preposterous families, improbable business strategies… I could gush pretty much indefinitely. But you don’t have to take my word for it – read the webcomic!

Graphic novels here – http://teahermitcomics.bigcartel.com/product/cafe-suada-teaset-cups-1-5

Webcomic here – https://tapastic.com/series/Cafe-Suada