Near the start of Photobooth: A Biography, Meags Fitzgerald talks about taking photobooth pictures with a friend in 2003 to celebrate the last day of classes of tenth grade, and how, after that day, she got very into photobooths: taking photobooth pictures, learning about the history of the booths themselves, and collecting photobooth pictures taken by others. The rest of the book talks about Fitzgerald’s experience with all those things, and also about various photobooth-related travels she’s taken, including a trip to California for the International Photobooth Convention and visits to photobooth warehouses in Montréal and Holland.

I am really fond of this kind of book in general—I find it easier to find “graphic memoirs” or illustrated travel journals or nonfiction comics that I like than I do to find graphic novels I’m excited about—and also, I like photobooths. So it’s not surprising that I really liked this book. Fitzgerald’s drawings of photobooths, photobooth pictures, herself, and various people she met on her travels are really satisfying, and pair well with the text. I liked reading about various different angles of photobooth history/production/art/culture, including but not limited to: how chemical photobooths work and what their charms are, and how they’re largely being replaced by lower-maintenance digital ones; the precursors to the photobooth and various inventors and companies whose work shaped the photobooth landscape; why photobooths appealed to Fitzgerald in high school, and how her relationship to them has changed over time, along with the art she’s made in them; how photobooths have been used by various artists and ordinary people throughout their existence. (Speaking of Fitzgerald’s photobooth art, I like it, and you can see more of it here and here.)

This book makes me nostalgic for my own photobooth experiences circa 2004-2007, when New York City, like other places, had more non-digital photobooths than now. I was amused to be reminded of the existence of photobooth.net, where the picture for the now-departed photobooth at the Wonder Wheel has me in it. More photobooth pictures featuring a younger me are here and here and here. Awww. Also, this:


I don’t remember how I found out about Liz Climo’s Tumblr, and I don’t remember how long I’ve been reading it, but I seriously love it, so I was very excited about this book, which is a mix of comics from her Tumblr and new ones. As the back cover puts it, this is a “charmingly quirky animal kingdom, a place where grizzly bears, porcupines, rabbits and anteaters all grapple with everyday life with wit and humor.” It’s organized thematically into four sections (“love and friendship,” “holidays and celebrations,” “family,” and “daily life”), which I think mostly works, though some of the ones in “holidays and celebrations” felt a little repetitive to me. But, I mean, I can’t really complain. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this, and kept interrupting my boyfriend to show him pages I particularly liked. I like Climo’s style, which is visually simple: these are mostly one-panel or two-panel comics, generally with a white background, so the various animal protagonists and the jokes/wordplay are front and center. (Example joke, from page ten of the book: An otter says to a clam, “why are you mad at me?” The clam says, “because you called me selfish.” Otter: “no, I called you shellfish.” Clam: “oh. well, that’s accurate.)

Some favorites:
Fishbowl
Don’t be afraid
Relationships are complicated
Mmm, ants
Never pass the ball to Larry