At one point in In Spite of Ourselves, Seattle cartoonist and illustrator Natalie Dupille's character is struggling to maneuver around roadkill while riding her bike on a busy Oregon highway, watching her partner, Allie, get farther and farther ahead. Through the sweat and struggle, Dupille internally berates herself for not being able to keep up, angry about the bike trip she's on. It all finally explodes out when she catches up with her partner. They hash out the conflict, apologize, and come to an understanding with one another—stronger in both a physical and emotional way, facing the rest of their journey together.
This Saturday at Fantagraphics Bookstore, Dupille will debut her graphic novella that follows the couple's bike trip to Central Oregon. It's a slender and intimate glimpse in the dynamics of a relationship, but also on the author's inner reflections on her body, nature, and self. It's a ruminative, funny, and touching read. On the last page, there's even a resource guide to plan a bike trip of your own, should the spirit move you to do so after reading through this book—and I think you might.
But even around these moments of frustration (with self, with partner), there's a tranquil nature to the Dupille's world, writ against the landscape they are both biking through. Amidst all the warm browns, cool grays, and burnt oranges of the Oregon horizon, you start to get a sense of who these characters are individually and as a couple. And though I do love the panels of dialogue, I found myself most drawn to the moments in which nothing is said, when Allie and Natalie are enjoying one another's company while whizzing down the road, taking in the beautiful landscape, soaking in a hot spring. It's as if I were there with them.
In addition to Dupille being in attendance and signing books on Saturday, the event will also feature an art show with the original watercolored pages from the novella. It will be up until February 5th—don't miss it!