An immigrant weaves a new, surreal Americana, complete with bubblegum fights and bomb queens.
Rarely does a new talent arrive in the medium as unmistakably distinct as Rumi Hara. With immersive art and a clear-eyed storytelling rhythm, her uncategorizable debut, Nori, put her playful cartooning on display. Her new collection, The Peanutbutter Sisters and Other American Stories, delights with equal mischievousness.
The Peanutbutter Sisters is a glorious balance of contradictions, at once escapism and realism, science fiction and slice of life. Two students explore the urban landscape while following Newton Creek, the polluted Queens-Brooklyn border. As they do, they plan a traditional Japanese play with contemporary pop culture. Another story features an intergalactic race of all living things set in the year 2099 and is a dazzling treatise on the environment and journalism. Yet sometimes the fantastical collides with the quotidian in the same story. A man struggling with vertigo during quarantine encounters a world of sexual revelry whenever he has a dizzy spell. The Peanut Butter sisters ride a hurricane into New York City and yet aren’t able to hitch a ride back with a whale due to a heavily polluted ocean.
Hara’s magical realist tendencies and diverse cast of characters all contort the tropes of the American comics canon. Yet above all else, her innate control of the comics language—her ability to weave the absurd with the real on such a charming and commanding level—is refreshingly unrivaled.