Not My Bag by Sina Grace
Graphic Novel | Fiction | LGBT
Published by Image Comics
Released October 30, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon
Working in retail, or any type of customer service, is difficult. You have to deal with the messiest, rudest people imaginable, and the work is rarely fulfilling. I worked in retail for nearly a decade until I transitioned into spas and then insurance, and I still cringe whenever I hear retail horror stories.
Sina Grace’s graphic novel Not My Bag is a story that all retail workers will be able to relate to. It tells the story of a man who hopes to become a comic book artist but finds himself working in high-end retail. You watch as the main character has to navigate the personalities of backstabbing employees while overworking himself to meet the standards of the industry. As time passes, he starts becoming obsessed with getting a promotion and outselling his co-workers, until one day he finally snaps and realizes he’s become obsessed with a job that he doesn’t actually want to do.
I spotted this graphic novel at my local library and was intrigued by the cover. If you look at the cover above, you’ll see that the bag on the left has tentacles emerging from it, and I was hoping for a story with Lovecraftian elements. The synopsis on the back states that the story is “a haunting retail hell story like you’ve never encountered before! A young artist takes a job at a department store in order to make ends meet … little does he know that he may meet his end!” Alas, that’s not what this story was, and I was slightly disappointed due to the expectations I had. The combination of the cover art and the synopsis felt misleading to me.
The art, which is drawn by the author, has a simple, gothic feel to it that I enjoyed. The characters are expressive and distinct. From cover to cover, the entire book is presented in shades of white, black, and gray, and it worked quite well.
The subplot of the story is about the character’s romantic relationships. He’s gay, so there’s some great LBGT representation here, and the relationships are thankfully realistic. He thinks about his exes and considers where things went wrong while also currently being in a new relationship. He refers to his exes and past as his ghosts, which I think all of us can understand.
Since I was able to relate to much of this story through my own frustrations in the retail world, I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t blow me away. I doubt I would ever re-read it, although I would still recommend it to people who want a story about retail or the fashion industry.
If you want more stories like Not My Bag, try these recommendations:
If you have any additional recommendations, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.