Bread & Butter #1
In Bread & Butter #1, Liz Mayorga uses familiar elements — the dreams and struggles of a young artist working a restaurant service job — to comment on the lure of a place. She creates an engrossing portrait of today’s urban culture through the semi-autobiographical character of Liana, who went to San Francisco to paint but is working at a museum cafe.
If you liked Over Easy (a longer, set-in-the-past, similar story), you should definitely check this out as a modern followup. If nothing else, it’s sadly entertaining to see the demanding customers Liana has to deal with. As she narrates, “when you work in customer service, it feels like you’re serving the worst of humanity.” That’s an exaggeration, but it’s also a statement of how deeply Liana feels about her day job.
Mayorga’s use of detail establishes a strong sense of place that I appreciated. I’ve never found San Francisco all that appealing, but Mayorga’s view of the city showed me a different way to see it. That extends to the small cafe family. I was particularly impressed by the dance she choreographs for Liana, as she has to navigate through the busy kitchen to get a question answered for an entitled customer. There’s a nice moment of respect for experts in what they do, as the kitchen worker comes up with an easy, satisfactory answer. Liana thinks, “I don’t have the experience to solve problems this quickly.” I liked this gesture of valuing everyone’s contributions.
Later, a friend points out that Liana’s dream may be better suited for a past version of the city now gone. San Francisco is about serving the rich these days, not inspiring young creators. Liana will be better off accepting the place as it is, not as she imagined it to be. Mayorga has used all these versions of the setting to create a thought-provoking glimpse of the latest incarnation of an eternal premise, the suffering artist. Find out more in this interview with Liz Mayorga.
Bread & Butter #1 will be available on October 5 via ComiXology. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)