Comic, Lisa Wilde, no. 1, Microcosm Publishing,microcosmpublishing.com, $3 (US)
Issue one of Yo Miss is the first of five zines sharing Lisa Wilde’s experiences as a high school teacher at a “second chance” high school in Lower Manhattan. The story is told from Wilde’s perspective, but follows eight students in particular, each sorting through their own circumstances on their quest to graduate high school.
For many of Wilde’s students, the stakes are high. Some are on their last chance to obtain a high school diploma before an age cap forces them into alternative, less prestigious programs. “Second chance” schools are institutions for students that have flunked out of or been removed from other schools. It’s both funny and moving to watch Wilde grapple with classroom dynamics and her students’ social world in order to help them help themselves.
She succeeds at revealing the anxiety and the hope underlying her work at the school without soliciting cheap empathy for her or her students fighting against the odds. Most importantly, the students are characterized respectfully — acknowledging underprivileged circumstances, but also criticizing behaviours that exacerbate those circumstances. While she holds them accountable in the classroom, she is also their advocate in this zine. I’d recommend this zine on its merits as a comic and as a snapshot of inner city American education. (Joshua Barton)