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How to Be Happy

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About the Author

Eleanor Davis is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator. In 2009, Davis won the Eisner's Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award and was named one of Print magazine's New Visual Artists. Her books include How To Be Happy (2014), Why Art? (2018), and The Hard Tomorrow (2019), which won the LA Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels and Comics. She lives in Athens, GA, with her husband, fellow cartoonist Drew Weing.


...How to be Happy [is] an imaginative collection of graphic literary short stories... Don't be fooled by the title, though; you won't find the key to happiness in these illustrations. Instead, the story that emerges from them forms a cryptic play on society's expectations for happiness.--Amber Hage-Ali "Columbus Alive"

...[How to Be Happy] is an inspired and inspiring collection of short work clearly establishing Davis as a leading cartoonist of the Tumblr era.... Davis' clever and sometimes jaw-droppingly beautiful artwork makes [these] stories feel real.--Dan Kois "Slate"

How to Be Happy is an argument for empathy, but not of the call-and-response kind. The stories here know the world is often heavy and intolerable. And also worthwhile; sometimes touched by light, sometimes full of music. Empathy is knowing both sides of the world, shouldering them and carrying on, searching for the still unblemished parts of the soul.--Paul Arrand Rodgers "Heavy Feather Review"

...[Davis's] stories often feature tremendous longing and sadness, but they also lushly suggest what a blessing it is to be alive and in the world. She presents, in short, a more realistic picture of what it means to be a human, with our ever-present mind/body tug-of-war, than almost anyone else out there making art. And what art it is: there may be nothing Davis can't beautifully illustrate. ...How to Be Happy is fearless and fantastic, unafraid to break rules or to make new ones.--Hillary Brown "Paste"

Eleanor Davis' breakthrough short story collection How to Be Happy... is a gorgeous book filled with exquisite cartooning. Davis switches between styles and subject matter with each story, flitting between melancholy, heartbreak, and nostalgia with a casual virtuosity.--Tim O'Neil "The A.V. Club"

Eleanor Davis's stylistic inconsistency is one of her greatest strengths, and How to Be Happy, a collection of her short pieces, shows off the breadth of her artistic range. ... Almost all of her characters are casting about for ways to fight off despair... They're doomed to failure, of course, but they keep trying.--Douglas Wolk "The New York Times"

I could praise what Davis achieves in this book all day -- it's as fine comicking as you could hope to come across: the enmeshing of wonderful art with good, strong narrative that naturally prompts and drives discussion and thought without it feeling overt or jaggedly superficial, is superb. Exceptional cartooning is when those elements come together in a cohesive manner, and Davis' work is on that plane. I haven't come across any comics that raise similar themes and ideas and yet How to Be Happy is widely, deeply applicable and resonant. It works and works and works some more. For many people this volume will be their introduction to Elenaor Davis' work; I can't imagine anyone coming away unimpressed.--Zainab Akhtar "Comics & Cola"

The art of Eleanor Davis sits proudly and comfortably on a continuum with the celebrated work of David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp), Jeff Lemire (The Underwater Welder), and David B. (Epileptic). Cartoony yet naturalistic, her art limns a world that can shift from very real to utterly surreal, sometimes within the same story. ... Like the body of a dead fox as depicted here by Davis in all its gruesome magnificence, these stories hide thick raw sinews beneath their glossy pelts.--Paul DiFilippo "Barnes & Noble Review"

Though Davis' tales can be wildly different in look and narrative, they are united by themes of yearning, of characters searching for the thing that will make their lives better. ...Remarkable ... exquisite ... How to Be Happy left me wanting more.--Carolina A. Miranda "Los Angeles Times"

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