Review: The Oven by Sophie Goldstein

 The Oven is a book I’ve written about briefly in the past - starting out as a serialized black and white comic in the Maple Key anthology, it was published earlier this year by AdHouse as a 2 tone black, white, and orange perfect bound book with orange gilding. At 80 pages, The Oven is one of Goldstein’s longest solo projects to date.

 In a future where humanity has destroyed the atmosphere, people live in overcrowded bubble cities with strict reproduction regulations. Eric and Syd are a couple that lives in one of these bubbles, but they escape into the outside world to live off the land and be able to have a family. But the transition from screen-looking, city-dwelling folk to raise crops off the land, butcher your own animals for meat folk is not the easiest for the couple, and as the story progresses, the change takes its toll.

 Goldstein has a fairly cynical view on utopia in The Oven - both the protected bubble and the scorched backwater field could be labeled as utopia by differing people, but each of the two settings is problematic. To live in the bubble is to be clamped down on and controlled. The alternative isn’t much better, with its hard labor and seemingly meaningless toil.

 As the two progress in their off-the-grid life, Eric isn’t able to cope as nearly as well as Syd. In one series of panels, Eric works furiously on the farm, and he’s advised to pace himself. “I just want to finish!” he says, angrily. But there is no finish in farming, just moving on to the next task.  This idea of hardship as a natural consequence of noncompliance is an interesting one to express in comics, and it’s smartly evoked in The Oven.

 The Oven is a comic revolving around the idea of transformation - the movement from futuristic utopia to backwater off-the-grid settlement is both transformative in the sense that what Eric and Syd do with their day-to-day lives changes dramatically, but it also changes the nature of the relationship the two have. The Oven also reminds readers that transformation has both a private and public face and cost; whether that is in the growth of a pregnant belly or crashing from drug overuse, we see these things play out through the course of the comic.

 Some of the story’s darker elements focus on drug use; Goldstein represents these drugs as a caterpillar in a crystalline cocoon that users must pry open to ingest. The theme of transformation is again echoed here, as Eric’s drug use is represented as him breaking into butterflies and flying away. (We also see these cocoons and butterflies in the endpapers of the book, a nice, if subtle touch).

Smart, complicated, and dark, The Oven is a fine addition to Goldstein’s oeuvre, and a book you should be reading. Recommended.


Sophie Goldstein redinkradio is a cartoonist and illustrator, and a winner of a 2014 Ignatz award for her minicomic House of Women, pt 1. You can find more of her work at her website.

AdHouse Books adhousebooks is a publisher of comics based in Virginia. Check out their upcoming releases and new comics at their website.


Tagged by trafalgarscan :3 Thank you for thinking about me >< 

Name: Divya
Time and date: 16:03 29/06/2015
Average hours of sleep at night: 5-9 hrs

Last thing I googled:  “Festa Major Terrassa 2015” 
Birthday: 02-01
Gender: female

Sexual orientation: I like boys and anime or fictional characters

Height: 1.68
Favorite color: blue, black and pink ^^
One place that makes me happy: Woo… I’d say a waterfall near my village *O*
How many blankets I sleep under: 0-2

Favorite movie: The Godfather and… The Godfather II!!
What I am wearing right now: Shorts and a T-shirt of a music band called “Txarango”
Last book I read: I think it was Round the world in 80 days
Most used phrases: “No way”, “Oh shit!!” and “Oh hell no… you’re gonna day today”
What I last said to a family member: “I need at least 8.5/10 to skip a grade, dad”
Favorite beverage: Coffee, tea and chocolate milkshake *—-*
Favorite food: PASTA  Ö
Last movie I watched: Ted 2
Dream vacation: Ahh!! I REALLY LOVE TRAVELLING!!! I want to travel around the world but I’d specially want to go to Malasya, Singapur and Thailand.
Dream wedding: Mmmm… I want to get married to a person who loves me as well as I love him, it doesn’t matter the wedding if I’d be happy ^^

Dream pets: I want a koala in my bedroom!!!

Dream job: I want to become a doctor!!! I’ll study a lot in order to become a great surgeon!!

I’m tagging: bleu-et-rose  comandanteraven  kaizen-07  lady-nounoum  helenasxs   ssasque   some-random-whorcrux   milkylollipops   serenitytouched   s-u-i-s-e-n

The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

(A table of contents is available. It will be kept updated throughout the series, and I will reblog it upon completion of the series. This series will remain open for additional posts.)

Part 3: Ever Versatile Action and Adventure

If statistics could be pulled for each genre from across the world where every book is labeled with every label that could apply to them, I would be willing to stake some amount of money on the opinion that either “action” or “adventure” would be tagged on at least 80% of all books. Despite that these are two separate genres that simply happen to share many similar qualities, they are often paired together, even hyphenated to action-adventure fiction. Not only are they squished together, but they’re often a “given” label in other genres.

Yes, action and adventure are our most prevalent cross-genre perpetrators.

What makes an action story?

This is the easiest genre to understand and the hardest to talk about without sounding silly, because honestly, an action story is exactly what it sounds like: A story that is driven by action. This doesn’t sound like anything special, but consider that narrative can be driven by two forces: external conflict and internal conflict. Much of genres like literary fiction and the classics deal in internal conflict that are character-driven. Action is a more outward show of doing things, rather than thinking about things.

Because of action’s broad definition, the genre can be crossed with nearly any other genre. Action thriller? Absolutely. Action historical? For sure. Action comedy? Have you even seen Guardians of the Galaxy?

Given how prevalent action can be, when trying to decide if your story aligns with this genre, you’ve got to be more careful than you would think. Don’t just slap it on because it probably applies. Consider how much down-time your story has. The more character-focused, the more willing to pause and smell the roses with your characters, the more internal dialogue there is in your tale, the more likely it is that you simply don’t need this label.

Choosing your genre isn’t a mad rush to find all 26 labels that fit your story. You’re looking for 1-3, maybe 4 at the maximum. 2 is the sweet spot. Is action really one of the main 2 or 3 focal points of your story? Did you write this because you were looking for the thrill of the car chase? Really think hard before taking action as one of your carefully-chosen genres.

What makes an adventure story?

Action–external sources of conflict–is often a key feature of an adventure. That’s why these two get linked so often. But there’s more to adventure than just filling your pages with things happening. We’re talking about a mission, a goal to achieve, obstacles to overcome–and these may even be internal! The most often-seen and most often-accepted adventure stories center on the external: Villains and evil antagonists, mountains standing in the way, a battle to wage. Just as important can be the adventures that are more mundane: Moving to a new town, finding new friends, a character overcoming their anxieties to accomplish something. The Lord of the Rings is a quintessential adventure story, but alongside it are The Bridge to Terabithia and Trickster’s Choice.

Just as action is an exceptionally broad genre, adventure also winds up cross-genre-ing with just about everything. Adventure romance? Try Through Fire & Sea. Adventure dystopian? The Fog Diver. Adventure comedy? The Worst Class Trip Ever.

All the same warnings apply to adventure as applied to action. Be discerning about what your key features of your story are. Is your plot couched in a quest? Are your characters making a journey? Do they get into trouble they have to find their way out of? Adventure is probably for you. Add it to your list!

Next up: Alternative History!

oh my god i am so excited you don’t even know!! my dad just bought my great-great-grandfathers book home - it is a giant book, several hundred gilt-edged pages of mind-blowingly beautiful illustrations and hand written texts and photos from over a hundred years ago all made by my great-great grandfather

he worked on this book from 1888 to 1913, 25 years

my heart is beating so fast – our family was full of great artists, but this is the first time i see any of my ancestors works

Booster Gold #9: That feel when you so much of a screwup that even your superhero name was an accident.

Michael proceeds to think that he shouldn’t correct him because he doesn’t want to embarrass the President in front of everyone in America.

I remember sitting here reading this issue like: HOMEBOY, YOU MEAN YOU DON’T WANT TO EMBARRASS YOURSELF IN FRONT OF THE PRESIDENT. Like for real homie you just went and told him your professional crimefighting title using your frat-bro nickname from college. Come on, dude.

*shakes head* Michael trying to name himself Goldstar. Yeah I’ve got a gold star for you right here bro: