Jo has made a name for herself as a freelance wedding photographer; women flock to her for her artistic black-and-white bridal portraits. But as Jo lies in bed looking at her wedding portrait, she reflects on the inner turmoil she felt before saying her own vows seven years ago. Lately, she has been wallowing in bed, depressed over her broken marriage and the recent revelations of her husband’s infidelity.
When she’s not strolling down her painful memory lane or being pushed into socializing with her friends, Jo has her bevy of “sad brides” to keep her company: bridal portraits she has taken of women who look sad rather than happy on their special day. Jo spreads these photographs out on her bed and imagines the sad stories behind these fellow sad women (while fully acknowledging how insane she probably looks).
Considering the subject matter — Jo’s problems goes way back — Barbara Slate’s graphic novel, Getting Married and Other Mistakes, is equal parts humorous, neurotic, and introspective. Pushed by her friends to work through her depression, Jo agrees to start going to therapy. She tries three different therapists in search of the right one, and in doing so begins to see how decisions and events from her past have lead her to where she is now. Told in flashbacks, Jo reflects on how she was raised — her marriage-obsessed mother put catching a man above all other accomplishments — but she doesn’t make the real connection as to why her life is a mess until the end of the book.
I really love Slate’s playful, bold artwork. All of the present-day events are illustrated in color, while the flashbacks are illustrated in black and white with red accents. Here’s an example from a flashback; Jo followed her mother’s instructions to perfection and “caught” herself a husband:
Parts of the book are laugh-out-loud funny, yet anyone who has gone through the heartache of a bad breakup will appreciate Jo’s reflections. I wouldn’t call the book fun, per se — she is going through a depression, after all — but Slate handles her subject matter with good nature and shows that it’s necessary to be honest with oneself before trying to tackle life’s bigger problems.
Getting Married and Other Mistakes was released on June 12, 2012 by Other Press.