Outside the world of underground comix enthusiasts, Joyce Farmer is probably best known for her latest work, Special Exits (Fantagraphics 2010), a memoir (though the names are changed) of her experience caring for her parents during the last few years of their lives. Special Exits is Farmer’s first book-length comic, famously praised by Robert Crumb, but Farmer has been an important figure in comics since the 1970s.
I’ll get back to Special Exits in a minute, but first I want to make sure to tell you about her work from the 70s. I wish I’d been more familiar with it myself before I read Special Exits, because then I would have been even more blown away by the book. The memoir’s gritty seriousness and attention to the most mundane details of caring for aging parents is quite a shift from Farmer’s edgy, explicit early work.
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