Esther Pearl Watson

Stopping on a road trip, Los Angeles artist Esther Pearl Watson found a teenager’s diary from the ’80s in a gas station bathroom. From its contents sprang her beloved Bust comic strip about the harrowing teen adventures of Tammy Pierce. Now collected under the same name, Unlovable ($22.99, Fantagraphics) adds 100 new pages. In them, Tammy shaves her legs for the first time, agonizes over changing in front of her peers in the locker room, and waits hopefully for the handsomest boy in school to call (he doesn’t). Watson’s graphic style and messily scrawled confessions—“I walked around third period with a red lollipop stuck to my butt. I hate school”—read like a genuine diary, filled with humor and despair. Unlovable makes me grateful to be past that painful stage. Watson’s original drawings remain on view through March 4. She’ll attend this evening’s book launch event and sign copies, while DJ Rusty Willoughby is playing—what else?—’80s music. ERIKA HOBART

Feb. 7-March 4, 2009

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