Hot Comb

Hot Comb

Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon. The titular story “Hot Comb” is about a young girl’s first perm - a doomed ploy to look cool and to stop seeming “too white” in the all-black neighborhood her family has just moved to. Realizations about race, class, and the imperfecti...

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Title:Hot Comb
Author:Ebony Flowers
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Hot Comb Reviews

  • Lisa

    Beautiful artwork and storytelling. There is a table of contents at the beginning but I wish the book had been more explicitly presented as a collection of short stories - I would have been happy to have the first story expanded to book-length.

  • Melissa

    We humans cut our hair to mourn, cover it to be observant, shave it off to be more pious or keep it long as it is a gift from God. We judge others whose children have unkempt locks, and we dress our own to conform or rebel, because hair has meaning in culture.

    To brush hair binds parents to children or lovers to each other. We stroke the hair of our beloveds when they are sad, playfully tug it when they are sassy, and muss it up when they are adorable. To touch another’s hair, one must be invited

    We humans cut our hair to mourn, cover it to be observant, shave it off to be more pious or keep it long as it is a gift from God. We judge others whose children have unkempt locks, and we dress our own to conform or rebel, because hair has meaning in culture.

    To brush hair binds parents to children or lovers to each other. We stroke the hair of our beloveds when they are sad, playfully tug it when they are sassy, and muss it up when they are adorable. To touch another’s hair, one must be invited, or it is a deeply felt violation, because hair is personal.

    The cartoonist and ethnographer, Ebony Flowers, knows hair is a thing, ya’ll. Her debut graphic novel, “Hot Comb,” weaves together eight stories that illustrate that there is no sunlight between the personal and the cultural experience of hair in the African-American community. Her most affecting stories are those centered on young people as she captures both the magic and the vulnerability of childhood with a loving eye. In busy black and white illustrations, Flowers roams from the delighted child dancing in front of the mirror at Grandma’s house while trying on each of her many wigs, to the girl who has endured burning relaxers only to be bullied at school by the same kids who called out her buckshots and beadie-beads the week before. The most harrowing story allows us to watch a young woman of color develop the nervous habit of pulling out her hair, strand by strand, after suffering the casual disregard of her white teammates who feel free to touch her hair anytime they wish. While not all the stories pack the same emotional punch, this is still a very worthwhile book, perfect for those who have lived these tales as well as those of us who are lucky enough to learn a thing or two from Ms. Flowers about #havinghairwhileblack in America.

    Bonus music video "Good as Hell" by Lizzo, celebrating black women's resilience and beauty, all set in the cultural hub of a hair salon.

  • Hannah Garden

    I want Jillian to read this because I want to be able to talk to someone about it specifically in terms of the art specifically in context of having recently read Mira Jacob's Good Talk, but in the meantime my own thoughts are just basically I am glad this book exists, I think it's good, and I'd like to see where Flowers takes her story-telling next.

    These are short stories, a format I love, and sort of tonally auto-bio if not literally auto-bio, about black women's experience around their hair

    I want Jillian to read this because I want to be able to talk to someone about it specifically in terms of the art specifically in context of having recently read Mira Jacob's Good Talk, but in the meantime my own thoughts are just basically I am glad this book exists, I think it's good, and I'd like to see where Flowers takes her story-telling next.

    These are short stories, a format I love, and sort of tonally auto-bio if not literally auto-bio, about black women's experience around their hair. Some of the stories are quite long and some are little and the centraizing locus of hair does not come at the expense of variety of thesis and character.

    I don't love the size and layout for these stories in book-form, there's a ziney vibe that doesn't serve it in this format but that I think could have been elevated by maybe just a half inch bigger pages, or releasing this as floppies if we lived in the beautiful fantasy future where something like this could be successfully released as floppies. Also I kinda want to see this art style with some watercolor wash. Particularly the Angola story, all those leaves and the ocean.

  • Rod Brown

    A captivating glimpse of African American women and their hair as well as their relationships with their mothers, sisters and friends. This book is a great companion piece to

    , though better than that book for being concise and focused. The art has a rough and unrefined quality, but I quickly warmed to it. Recommended.

  • Amy!

    I don't particularly love this art style, but I did really enjoy these short stories and parody ads for black hair products. It was a really interesting, informative look at the way life happens around these women getting their hair done.

  • Olivia

    After serving as an editor for a graphic novel review publication, Drawn & Quarterly now has me on a "librarian" list and sent me a complimentary copy of this with no expectations of any formal review. I would've sought it out to read anyway, but this was a nice gesture. Even more so that I now have it signed after meeting Flowers at SPX!

    This is a collection of short comics about the lives of Black women. Some are based on true stories, some not (according to Flowers the first one is and the

    After serving as an editor for a graphic novel review publication, Drawn & Quarterly now has me on a "librarian" list and sent me a complimentary copy of this with no expectations of any formal review. I would've sought it out to read anyway, but this was a nice gesture. Even more so that I now have it signed after meeting Flowers at SPX!

    This is a collection of short comics about the lives of Black women. Some are based on true stories, some not (according to Flowers the first one is and the other "shorter" ones are non-fiction). Each story reads like a self-contained slice of life where it feels like these characters exist outside the story but in a way that doesn't demand more from the story.

    I really enjoy Flowers' style - all black and white, mostly thick lines, but also with an attention to detail for texture. Things really jump out at you in a way that you don't expect.

    I look forward to her future work!

  • Alicia

    It is equal parts biographical and every experience as Flowers describes African American hair in different contexts and experiences, however as with the graphic novel

    , the illustration style was distracting and unfocused. In scenes where there was singing or action, I was distracted by what was on the page and without any color either to change depth or make items or people pop out, I didn't know what I was supposed to be looking at. So I lost something i

    It is equal parts biographical and every experience as Flowers describes African American hair in different contexts and experiences, however as with the graphic novel

    , the illustration style was distracting and unfocused. In scenes where there was singing or action, I was distracted by what was on the page and without any color either to change depth or make items or people pop out, I didn't know what I was supposed to be looking at. So I lost something in the translation of the emotional elements of hair experiences with the illustrative choices.

    Choosing to be a collection of short stories however was a superb entry point.

  • Amanda

    I’m a little underwhelmed with this collection overall. There are a few stellar comics but they’re buried in with tangents and the panels themselves are hard to read.

  • Mary Lee

    Definitely a "window" book for me.

  • Elizabeth A

    Hair is a thing. Especially women's hair. Across all cultures. Women of color have extra special baggage when it comes to our hair. If you don't believe me, just look up how much money this industry generates. It boggles the mind. World hunger could be fixed with that kind of money. However, we all live in this world, and are products of our upbringing and the marketing messages we are constantly bombarded with, so maybe we could give ourselves a break on this one.

    This graphic memoir is a collec

    Hair is a thing. Especially women's hair. Across all cultures. Women of color have extra special baggage when it comes to our hair. If you don't believe me, just look up how much money this industry generates. It boggles the mind. World hunger could be fixed with that kind of money. However, we all live in this world, and are products of our upbringing and the marketing messages we are constantly bombarded with, so maybe we could give ourselves a break on this one.

    This graphic memoir is a collection of vignettes that offer a "glimpse into black women’s lives and coming-of-age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn." While I appreciate that there is power for women and girls who see themselves in these stories, I was not a fan of the sketchy, blocky illustration style, and the pieces themselves lacked a cohesive narrative drive.

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