Adult Beauty, Art, Music in Literature Books Genre graphic novel Lifespan of a Reader Nonfiction Reading Themes Young Adult (YA) Literature

Sketches Of Married Life In All Its Mundane Glories

"The Daily Drawings Of Us" by Curtis Wiklund

Myra here.

I am not familiar with Wiklund’s website or his daily artwork depicting his marriage until I chanced upon this graphic novel. In this graphic novel memoir, beauty and art intersect so meaningfully with the ordinariness and magic of married life.

(The Daily Drawings Of) Us

Written and Illustrated by Curtis Wiklund
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (2017)
ISBN: 1449483461 (ISBN13: 9781449483463). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The concept is fairly straightforward, but one that requires discipline and commitment. Curtis’ wife, Jordin, stated that she will be doing a 365-day project where she will take a photo every day for a year.

This inspired Curtis to declare that he would also do a daily drawing, a documentation of sorts of their life together. It reminded me of Mo Willems’ You Can Never Find A Rickshaw When It Monsoons (see my thoughts about this graphic memoir here) with Willems drawing one cartoon a day as he traveled the world for a year.

Us, in contrast, is a quiet meditation on a life shared, gentle musings about love that overflows it has to drip onto the pages, and a tribute to that which one feels grateful for.

I like how Wiklund employed a variety of styles in his daily sketches – from the evidently computer graphics type of art to “messy” charcoal drawings:

Then there are the little details that taken together make up a life, including the woes of budgeting:

… to experiencing colds together:

… and my absolute favourite (the one I relate to the most), purchasing stuff from Ikea:

This was an intimate depiction of married life in all its ordinariness, yet it never felt intrusive nor voyeuristic. I also did not get the sense that Wiklund was thumbing his nose down on the poor, unfortunate, unmarried ones. I have always appreciated the unspoken sense of gratitude, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness that emerged from every portrait, like each drawing is a form of subtle thanksgiving. It is a tribute to that which is transient, capturing fleeting moments through drawings that depict a life well lived. Isn’t that what beauty stands for?

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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