In 2003, an artist living her post-college life in New York City made it her mission to draw one thing every day. Vanessa Davis didn’t always manage to meet her goals, but the resulting book, Spaniel Rage is well worth the effort.
The most striking thing about Spaniel Rage is how relevant it feels today. Davis’ illustrations date to 2003, and the book was originally published in 2005 by a now-defunct press. (Drawn + Quarterly re-released Spaniel Rage in 2017.) A lot has changed in that time, but the cartoon Vanessa’s failures, triumphs and everyday banalities don’t feel pulled from some distant yesteryear. In fact, the moral of Spaniel Rage‘s meandering story may be that young, single women from two ends of a generation — or even from separate generations — have more in common than we think.
If you’re an artist, you’ll find even more to relate to in Spaniel Rage. Davis’ thing-a-day habit exposes the natural ups and downs of the creative life; sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. When she doesn’t, Davis writes a note in the margins about her perceived lack of talent for the day. It’s those little intimacies that make Spaniel Rage such a joy to read.
Davis’ book celebrates the daily little quirks that make life interesting, highlighting them with just the sort of low-key fanfare you do use your own thoughts and conversations. These aren’t the phone-Mom-in-tears successes, but the quick anecdotes about petting cute dogs and spotting city legends. For all those you-had-to-be-there moments, Spaniel Rage is here.
4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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Image credit: Vanessa Davis and Drawn + Quarterly