Nothing encourages a little healthy reflection and self-assessment like having a kid. The cartoonist Mike Dawson has two, and in recent years he’s been publishing searching, honest short comics about the doubts and worries that parenting provokes (including in Slate). The comics are unique in their willingness to interrogate many of the tricky issues around modern family life: How responsible can a parent be for his children’s safety? How much can a feminist father do to change the way others treat his daughter and son? How honest should we be with our children when that honesty fosters new fears? Dawson doesn’t claim to have the answers, but watching him wrestle with the questions is more satisfying anyway.
Dawson’s crisp and clever art is particularly good at illuminating abstract concepts and bringing them to life. The panels above, for example, are from his Cartoonist Studio Prize–nominated comic “Longstreet Farm,” which mulls over the relationship of his family to the natural world, but which also finds an ingenious way to illustrate the vagaries of historical memory most of us share. This flair for finding the surprising, perfect visual metaphor makes his new collection Rules for Dating My Daughter not just a thoughtful book but one that’s a pleasure to read. It also makes him a perfect illustrator for the May issue of the Slate Book Review.
Rules for Dating My Daughter: The Modern Father’s Guide to Good Parenting by Mike Dawson. Uncivilized Books.
See all the pieces in the Slate Book Review.