Review: She Said

Artist(s): Kris Dresen.

She Said1 is the latest collection of a Kris Dresen strip, following the bittersweet love story of two women. With each of her webcomics, Dresen experiments, and this time is no exception: the meeting, falling-in-love and consequences thereof are told in full-page panels, with few words and beautifully detailed art.

The customer of a sandwich shop catches the eye of the young woman preparing her lunch—her habit of always ordering the same sandwich is intriguing. The customer is a bit older than the shop girl, more guarded, but they seem to get along well.
The first half of the book covers the ascending curve of their relationship, culminating with an unreciprocated “I love you”. The second half follows the consequences of that unilateral declaration. One could think this sounds too simple, but Dresen packs her pages with a lot to follow: besides her illustrative style, she also gives us subtle body language that reminds us that, in comics as in other arts, less is more. As I said above, the dialog is limited, only a small part of the whole. Nowhere is that clearer than in a wonderful chapter where the characters only say “Hey” in various ways. It almost feels like an Oulipo exercise, but it might be the most moving chapter in the book.

Apart from the lovers, only two more characters people this tale, each one the “wise” friend of one of the protagonist. The older woman has a male friend who’s always putting her new lover down, while the younger woman has a female friend, upbeat and encouraging. Dresen uses those two characters to good comical effect, with mirroring and often opposite reactions from the two friends. They also seem to work as the inner voices of the two women, expressing doubts and hopes. It’s a neat narrative trick that adds a lot to the fullness of the main characters.

She Said is definitely a book that deserves multiple readings, and that is a proof of Kris Dresen’s talent for conjuring well-rounded characters.

  1. This 124-page book is available from, and also as a pdf from here. As is often the case, the author has changed a few things here and there from the still online first version.

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