Monica Gallagher is difficult to pin down. I don’t just say that because she has competed in roller derby and could probably take me out with a well-placed elbow. From auto-bio memoirs to comedy, to fantasy and action, Gallagher is an accomplished cartoonist who has managed to effortlessly cross genres to carve out her own niche in the marketplace.
I first discovered Gallagher years ago at The Stumptown Comics Fest. I took home her book, Boobage, because it was surprising. I had expected either something soft-core or maybe humorous. What I ended up with was a coming of age story about a girl growing up with a body that did not look like everyone else’s. Having daughters of my own, I found the book to be an interesting peek in to a world I had, as a male, not been privy to.
A little while later I discovered the book Bonnie n’ Collide at Cosmic Monkey. It was a Roller Derby comedy about the daily life of an office worker who is also a roller girl. It was quite funny and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was surprised when I realized it was done by Gallagher. The art was different and the humor was much more overt than Boobage.
Over time I have picked up much of what Gallagher has published. I always make it a point to stop by her booth at Stumptown to see if she has something new. This year she debuted a new book at the show, Go for the Eyes. The cover shows an intense woman staring right at the viewer like something out of a Terry Moore comic. It is intimidating to say the least.
Inside, the art softens a bit as Gallagher reveals the true tale of her struggle to gain self-confidence through martial arts and self-defense classes. Along the way she discovers the greatest action hero of all, Linda Hamilton, in Terminator 2.
The book is told with self-deprecating humor without ever dropping in to whining or complaining. Gallagher conveys the complex emotions of fear, guilt, and disappointment that come when your confidence is shattered. Instead of clinging to this and wallowing in it, Gallagher shows that life goes on. There are good days too.
Gallagher’s art is strong. The martial arts sequences do a good job of showing the fantasy of self-defense (smooth and confident) as well as the reality of it (clumsy and awkward). Not only do the bodies move on the page in a realistic manner, but the faces of each character convey more emotion than any dialogue balloon or caption box could ever convey.
If you are lucky enough to have a great LCS which stocks self-published and small press comics, you may be able to pick up a copy of Go For The Eyes. However, if not, Go For The Eyes is available from Gallagher’s Etsy shop.
And, if you are in the mood for a hilarious Roller Derby Comic, Bonnie n’ Collide is available on line for free!