by Ursula Murray Husted
$9.95 ISBN: 0975322508
A death in the family is something that most of us have experienced. Every experience is unique, of course, but there are commonalities to the experience too. In every culture there are death rituals, sometimes elaborate, which serve to facilitate the grieving process. When it happens in our own family, suddenly the world seems to tilt at an angle; we enter into a strange parallel existance, where the normal rules of society are suspended. You leave work or school, perhaps travel a long distance, participate in rituals, and people bring you food. Then, after a few days, things return to normal. Supposedly.
In the opening pages of Ursula Murray Husted's Making Rain, Rosie (whose age isn't given, but appears to be about 11) attends the death of her grandmother, who dies peacefully in a hospital, surrounded by loved ones. Rosie is then swept up in the aftermath: the funeral, the burial, the wake. She understands what is going on, but as this is her first experience with death, she doesn't quite understand the why. The purpose of the ritual escapes her.
A few days later, Rosie returns to school. But although the ritual is over, Rosie stills feels disconnected. She struggles to finally come to acceptance and continue on.
Husted's presentation of this story is wonderfully done. Done in two-tone (blue and brown), the art is a somewhat sketchy style with scant backgrounds, but is perfect for the story. Emotion, real emotion, comes forth from the pages, and it's very easy to be swept up into one's own memories of similar experiences.
Death--real, human death--is a topic that is seldom dealt with in comics. Oh sure, we're constantly bombarded with the "In This Issue: A Character Dies!" type of death, but that's exploitive and sensational, and completely divorced from the real experience. Husted is to be commended for presenting a story with genuine humanity.
(The only drawback to Making Rain is the price--$10 is a bit steep for such a slim volume of 56 pages. But it is beautifully presented, and is easily worth your time and money over 3 issues of the latest X-Men spin-off.)
Rating: 4.5 (of 5)