- Craig Graziano
When a palm reader told Nicole J. Georges that her long-deceased father was very much alive, Nicole's first thought was, "Who does she think she is?" But the psychic was definitely onto something, and Calling Dr. Laura started to take shape.
This graphic-novel memoir shows life in Portland, Oregon, as Nicole attempts to make sense of her revelation, confirmed by her older sisters from a different father. The dead dad cover-up was just one of Nicole's issues with her mother. Her homosexuality was also starting to weigh on her conscience. One of Nicole's sisters had come out to their mother and received no emotional support, seriously fracturing the relationship.
Nicole, in her time of need, turns to Dr. Laura Schlessinger. It may be odd for a young feminist lesbian to call a conservative talk show host for help, but Nicole has fond memories of focusing on the talk show when adolescent conversations with her mother in the car went nowhere.
The Dr. Laura call is a somewhat inconsequential scene compared to Georges' relationship with a woman who encourages her to directly address both issues with her mom. We also get an in-depth examination of the lack of father figures in Georges' childhood. The book jumps in between two different styles, giving childhood a cartoony look while adulthood is full of gorgeous texture and nuance.
George's greatest visual gift is expressing her love of animals, especially dogs and chickens, which she keeps as pets. The connection with animals is sweet yet sad. Georges admits at one point that the animals keep her company in her most severe times of loneliness. You can see more of her animal affinity on her web site.
The next logical step for fans of this book would be to seek out Allison Bechdel's Fun Home. Bechdel's dense yet visceral account of her tumultuous relationship with her deceased father raised the bar for graphic novels and memoirs. Entertaining and poignant, Georges' book follows in this tradition, contributing greatly to the growing creative discourse of LGBT writers and artists.