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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

Lisa Frank > Anne Frank

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: September 2014

Today I saw the first evidence of fall. It was a tiny leaf on the ground at the corner of 4th and Broadway. About the size of a baby hand, it was green with the telltale red of autumn creeping in around the edges. As I waited for the lights to change at the crosswalk, I held strong eye contact with that leaf while downtown’s notorious homeless anger bomb yelled “DIE” at the side of my face. Fall is my favorite time of year. If I could find a place where the six months of summer were swapped out for six months of fall, that would be magical. The cooler seasons make me think of soup, rain, and how incredibly terrible those PSL commercials by Starbucks are. They also make it difficult for me to want to do anything but pull all my favorite graphic novels off the shelf, read them all day, then sleep with them piled up around me at night like my very own impenetrable fortress of solitude and loneliness. Isn’t loneliness the best, you guys?

This week, in honor of the autumn leaf I saw, I’m recounting some of my favorite graphic novels and collected works to read in preparation of the cooler months ahead. This is also nod to all the folks who have recently told me they miss the time when I wrote about comics. I hear you! I miss it too. But sometimes it’s just too tempting to treat this outlet like my diary. Or rather, like an overflow for what doesn’t fit in the stack of Lisa Frank-themed diaries that’s holding up one side of my bed. Better a Lisa Frank-themed diary than an Anne Frank-themed diary, am I ri-actually, nevermind! Let’s get to those comics!

Y The Last Man

Ah, the old standby. I truly adore this ten volume series by Brian K. Vaughn. An oldie but a goodie, this dystopian storyline follows Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand as they venture across the world (in which a mysterious plague has killed the male half of every species at once), in order to find Beth, Yorick’s girlfriend. If you haven’t read it, do it. If you have and liked it, read Vaughn’s latest venture, Saga.

Athos In America

Norwegian cartoonist Jason (yes, first name only. Like Cher), creates these beautiful self-contained stories that feature anthropomorphic characters and a minimalist color palette that works perfectly with his charming stories. If you like Tintin creator Herge, check out Jason. Read it now, thank me later.


If small press or alternative comics are your thing, then pick up the work of French cartoonist Moebius. My favorite series of his is Blueberry, which follows a cowboy on his adventures across the Old American West. An interesting focus considering the artist (Moebius) and writer (Jean-Michel Charlier) are from France and Belgium respectively. The best thing about this series (besides the incredible artwork), is the fact that in a time period that’s usually recounted with a heavy-handed use of stereotypes, Blueberry doesn’t follow any of them. Do yourself a favor and check out Moebius, but savor what you find as the Frenchman passed away in 2012 so we won’t be seeing any new work from this creative genius.

Arielle Mullen