House of Sugar collects a two-year run of strips in Halifax's The Coast Weekly. Originally published in 2006 (by Tulip Tree) these small, four-panel episodes, with their heavy lines and slightly squashed faces, resemble high school drawings that have grown up. The collection's themes are consistent: our immediate pasts are messy and painful places, but if we look so far back that we have to squint to see, everything is strong and elegant. Autobiographical anecdotes make up the bulk of House of Sugar, detailing Kraatz' childhood in the prairies and West Coast. Recurring characters include her wise and sentimental grandfather, her unattainable peers, and her treasured brother. The book is also peppered with appearances by the various idealized men and women from the 1940s who comfort and inspire Kraatz throughout her life. The stories contain tales of Ogopogo, reasons to not become a makeup artist, Kraatz's experimentation with drugs, and the deflating realization that trapeze artists get runs in their stockings, too. House of Sugar also boasts an introduction by Joel Plaskett.
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