Look Back and Laugh TP

Creator: Liz Prince
Publisher: IDW

Review by Anelise Farris

Look Back and Laugh is a 400-plus page collection of a day in the life of freelance cartoonist Liz Prince. In 2016, she drew a comic strip every single day to document what was going on in her life–from the big things like moving and marriage, to the smaller things like lunch dates and snow days.

I really enjoy auto-biographical comics, and this one does not disappoint. Look Back and Laugh first caught my attention because of the title. Living in the moment can be really hard, and for me it’s comforting to look back both to laugh and also to see how it all comes together. Prince’s work is comforting in the same way. Reading it provides the same sort of calm and joy that one gets from looking through old yearbooks or journals. Even though I don’t know Prince, I got to know her through this read. Plus, a work like this reminds readers how much more unites us than separates us. 

Prince enjoys milkshakes in the dead of January. She has an adorable fluffy cat named Wolfman. Her idea of a good night is a veggie pizza party and Scott Pilgrim. Plus, she gets excited about Food Network competitions the way some people do about the Superbowl. What’s not to love about her? In addition to all of the humorous bits, there is a whole lot of depth to Look Back and Laugh as well. Just what does one draw, Prince wonders, on the anniversary of her friend’s suicide. And the many comics depicting her struggle with insomnia are all too familiar. There is one panel where she talks about something she learned that day in therapy: self-care is always changing. From here, we jump to her all bundled up in pajamas, blankets, a hoodie, etc., and she goes to her significant other saying “remember this is what you’re sexually attracted to”–I laughed so hard at this because it was like looking in a mirror. 

The design of Look Back and Laugh is super smart. It reads like a flip-book. It’s smaller than your average book, each page having enough room for one horizontal comic. The dates are listed along the side, and it’s broken up by months. They are simple black-and-white comics, but they show a mastery in knowing how to use a little to communicate a lot. 

Verdict: Buy it.

Look Back and Laugh is a beautiful reminder that mundane mistakes, cat cuddles, therapist appointments, and endless Indian buffets are little things, but they all come together to create the bigger thing that is our life. 

Anelise Farris
I'm a doctor that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not researching or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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