Georgia Webber on Discovering Comics’ Potential

Shelf Esteem is a weekly measure of the books on the shelves of writers, editors, and other word lovers, as told to Emily M. Keeler. This week’s shelf belongs to Georgia Webber, the cartoonist behind the acclaimed series DumbHer shelves are, until the end of this month, on Toronto Island. Webber was just getting back from Expozine, a large art and zine fair in Montreal, when she met me at the Queen’s Quay ferry terminal. Once aboard the boat, her suitcase between us, she told me that the space she’s living in is a studio in her parent’s backyard while she waits to move into an apartment on the mainland. When we finally walk into her quiet, cozy coach house, I almost wonder how she could ever give it up.

I live with my parents, but I do love this space. It’s difficult to reconcile loving this exact room and not wanting to be with my family all the time. But the worst part about it is that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, and that means going outside to get to the bathroom in the main house. I have to put on a jacket! I’m looking forward to being in a space where I can just walk to the bathroom from my bedroom and back without putting my outdoor clothes on.

This was the first comic I read that gave me an idea of what comics could do. I was taking a non-traditional art class in high school, and we had a comics unit. Before this, I was like, Oh my God, writing is so intimidating, I don’t know how to write a story, I don’t know what to write about, I can’t do this, blah blah. And then my boyfriend at the time showed me this. The first few pages are her showing her dreams. Dream stories! They don’t have purposes! And this is a totally different format than I’d ever seen from a comic before; I hadn’t understood, previously, that comics could look anything like this. That was enough to unlock their potential for me.

Shelf Esteem runs every Tuesday.