Review: Vulnerability is my Superpower
Updated: May 9
Vulnerability is my Superpower: An Underpants and Overbites Collection, by Jackie Davis (2021)
Listen, I feel like no one should need convincing on whether to buy this book after 1.) seeing the cover, and 2.) reading Davis' bio:
Jackie Davis lives and works in a cozy one-bedroom apartment (heat’s included!) in Rochester, NY, with an assortment of house plant pals, plush toy companions, and one human husband, Pat. He’s the tired purple character and a kindred artistic spirit. Jackie enjoys personifying objects, meeting new people, breathing in the smell of the woods, and making large quantities of food to eat all week so she has more time to play in her sketchbook.
But since this is a blog where most of what I do is review books... I guess I'll give a little more than that.
Davis uses her diary comics to illustrate her anxieties and vulnerabilities - all her "little weirdsies" (as Linda Holmes would say). From a list of 20 Terrible Feelings ("Not being able to find that prickly thing in my bra"), to 20 Amazing Feelings ("Peeling off my sweaty socks after a long day on my feet.") to the Questions That Keep Me Up At Night ("Is it better to pretend to be part of something or to authentically be part of nothing?" and also "What is a snail?").
The comics are quirky, charming, and funny, but also earnest and insightful. It's rare to find someone that is willing (and able) to be honest about their life as a human. And I mean all the little things that make up being human... the ways we each are weird in what we like or dislike, the things we fear, the systems we create for ourselves to make the world more navigable, the two different sides of our own personalities - the brave and the meek. I think everyone will see themselves in at least one of her illustrations, as I did. Like, hello, yes, who hasn't met someone that made them feel invisible and "lonelier than just being alone." Who doesn't love the sound of animals that sound like they're laughing?!
Side note - That reminds me of this video of British Animal Voiceovers that I recently re-watched! I know the birds at minute :28 aren't actually making that noise... but every time I see it I just picture me and my best friend getting old together and laughing at something mundane. I don't know why we would have smoker's-cough laughs. I mean, we wouldn't. But in my imagination, we sound just like this.
I often share my little weirdsies on Twitter...
- When I can't sleep I try to remember the last time I flew on a plane and tried to sleep sitting up. Then I'm like, "This is so much better than that!" Sometimes it works.
- I just yelled at my ailing bamboo plant, "Listen, I kept an egg-baby alive in middle school, so what's YOUR deal? What makes you so special!"
- Do you chew mostly on one side of your mouth? I don't know why, but it's mostly the left side for me.
- I spent all my skinny days thinking I was fat.
- Sometimes I look at fancy home listings, and I just don't get the appeal of clear glass shower walls. Like, in movies people only ever wash their hair all sexy like, but you've gotta wash your pits and undercarriage too, man. I don't need anyone seeing that stage of the process.
Anyway, I'm saying this book is relatable, and even if you don't share the exact same little weirdsies as Davis (it's ok if you don't also love slugs and laughing so hard you pee your pants), there will be something that you do or think that feels comparable. You will love feeling seen, you will love feeling a little less alone, and you will laugh. What could be better?
Check out the Underpants and Overbites site for comics, the store, and some pretty awesome, downloadable coloring book pages.
UP NEXT: Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi