Comic books are a medium, not a genre. They aren’t obligated to feature superheroes or vigilantes, and some of the best comics and graphic novels have no supernatural or science fiction elements at all. Lucy Knisley’s Age of License is a lovely example of this, a graphic travelogue by an award-winning cartoonist.
Through her lovely, simple and clever style, Knisley invites the reader into her life as she embarked on a European book tour. Her plans change and expand, leading her from excitement to anxiety to a mixture of both. She displays this excellently and in a way that many readers can relate to her mindset even if they’ve never been in a position to have a European book tour of their own (or indeed any kind of book tour at all). We see her worry about every day trivialities and how this can evolve into worries about her own life.
Love is a major part of the story. Lucy recalls that at this point in her life, she had not been in love since breaking up with a boyfriend two years ago, whom she was still friends with. She wonders about finding the right partner and kids and about a Scandinavian man she recently met and kissed, a man she’ll be seeing again in Europe. We see her relate to friends and pursue no strings attached romance, how it can seem fulfilling but also involve constant reminders that a full relationship won’t happen. As her new lover makes her feel excited, he also judges her for her close relationship with her mother and constantly pushes her to try things she clearly does not wish to try.
This is a story about travel and oddities and very human conversations, a story about simply being a person and how we sometimes we can’t stop wondering, even when we’re successful, if we’re doing things just right or aren’t meant to be achieving greater goals. Check it out in stores or on Comixology.