Despite the laudatory quote from Vice Magazine on the back of Vanessa Davis' Make Me a Woman—"If you don't like [Vanessa Davis], you don't like anything good"—I... don't really like Vanessa Davis. I like the way she draws big, bold women, and I like her self-deprecating sensibility, but her disconnected vignettes about growing up in Florida and dating in New York City promise more humor and insight than they deliver.
Make Me A Woman combines Davis' drawings and comics (some previously published, some not) from 2004-2010. Short, observation-oriented scenes are written like joke set-ups, but the book is light on actual laughs—similarly, a focus on the minutia of Davis' personal life suggests a level of social observation, but Davis never commits to characters or relationships in enough detail to glean any real insights. The book intersperses formal, black-and-white and color panels with unfinished pencil drawings; the overall impression is that Davis is actively resisting organizing her body of work into any kind of coherent whole. And while such fragmentation is perhaps true to life, and true to Davis' method, it just doesn't make for a satisfying reading experience.
Presenting with Davis at Reading Frenzy is Julia Wertz, a comics creator who has much more successfully translated her life into material; Wertz's newest, Drinking at the Movies, is a hilarious and relatable (well, for drunks) account of Wertz's cross-country move and substance abuse issues.