Calling Dr. Laura

Nicole Georges

It’s that time of year when I tend to think of Portland and my time living there — now five years distant; so it was fitting that Nicole’s new book came out right now. I read it in one snowy evening, finding many old familiars of that city and of the people. Nicole is someone I knew there, through mutual friends as well as crossing paths at the IPRC, but not incredibly well. I wasn’t aware of most of the story she captures in this graphic memoir, but I suspect that my relative closeness has a lot to do with my enjoyment of the book.

After being told that her father died when she was two, a slightly ironic visit to a palm reader instigates some doubt. Initially Nicole tells no one about that part of the reading, but over a year later she casually relates the story while on a first date, then eventually queries one of her older sisters who reveals the story she was told is a lie. Most of this memoir is less about the potential of her absent father than the lie her mother told pitted against Nicole’s reluctance to come out to her. It’s kind of a battle of secrets rooted in the tough emotions of the complicated relationship they have together, at time when Nicole is also dealing with a difficult romantic relationship. The title refers to the true story of Nicole turning to Dr. Laura for some advice in the midst of all this.

A bravely vulnerable book, it’s drawn beautifully, contrasting lifelike detail in the “present” parts of the story with almost childlike simplicity in the “past” parts of the story. It ambitiously surpasses Nicole’s already great Invincible Summer comics in both artistic quality and narrative structure.