I’d rather be alone than with you jerks

by Sarah Oleksyk

This is an indie comic about a girl in her final year of high school going through a crisis. It’s hardly an original basis and yet this book feels fresh and new, and above all honest.

Ivy is snarky and difficult with everyone, even her closest friends. The only class at school that she likes is art, but her (single) mother is adamant that she not apply to art schools, only business schools. This comes from a place of love, because Ivy’s mother dropped out of high school, never got a degree and now works long hours in jobs she hates and rarely sees her daughter. But of course Ivy only sees the part where she rarely sees her mother and when she does they fight.

Ivy hates the star of her art class, Charlotte, for “trying too hard”. She hates her maths teacher for calling her out on not paying attention in class. She hates her friends Brad and Marisa for hanging out without her sometimes. She doesn’t hate Josh, the cute guy she meets at a college open day.

“Fine, don’t call me. I’d rather be alone than with you jerks. You’d rather hang out with two-faced Donna than your best friend, is that it? Fuck. Fine.”

Thus begins the inevitable series of scenes where Ivy says the worst possible thing to her friends, teachers and mother, alienating herself further. She’s really not doing herself any favours, but her anger feels real and familiar. Only her long-distance relationship with Josh seems to be going well.

The art is simple black and white, beautifully evoking the characters and places. For instance, Ivy’s preferred place to go alone and think, next to the railway tracks behind the cemetery, feels like the perfect location for teen angst. It’s lonely, combines concrete and nature, peace and quiet, litter, discarded porn.

I really enjoyed this book and would love to see more work from Oleksyk.

Published 2011 by Oni Press.

Source: Present from my Mum.