Sara Varon’s Sweaterweather is more than a reprint. It includes the material from the 2003 Alternative Comics volume of the same name, her first book, but it’s now twice the size, with more charming encounters among simple, cute creatures (similar to her Bake Sale).
I particularly appreciated the short notes introducing each story. Each provides some context to the piece, including when it was made and sometimes the author’s inspiration. Since the stories are often wordless, or light on text, it’s neat to find out more about the background for each tale. The lack of narration involves the reader more, too.
Varon’s focus on everyday activities — trying to get out of the cold, or cooking a meal for a friend, or swimming in a pool, or going camping — is refreshing. It illustrates how much of our life is spent in the kind of events that don’t seem significant, but they’re still important to us at the time, and they make for memories similar to those captured here. Her work is special in its ordinariness. (Although there is the occasional magical fantasy, such as the story about wanting to fly.)
Her figures are comforting, too. They’re simplified, often domesticated animals, such as cats, dogs, or rabbits, but in humanoid form. I was impressed by how much all this work over so many years hung together, with similar subjects and approaches. That makes Sweaterweather a consistent, enjoyable read throughout.
I liked, as well, the extra touches, whether it was the set of paper dolls or the educational comic all about urban beekeeping. Most of the pieces are happy, or at least, demonstrate contentment. The characters are friendly and sociable; friendship is a recurring theme. The exception, a piece in which a dog treats his robot badly after a day at the beach, thus stands out all the more powerfully. (And there’s an authorial explanation for it given.) Otherwise, even a boxing story involves good feelings at the end.
The book ends with a few diary strips and some interviews with other artists, moving from fiction to non-fiction. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)