Work-Life Balance by Aisha Franz, translated by Nicholas Houde / ISBN 9781770466333 / 256-page paperback, 5.6 x 7.3 inches, published in 2023 by Drawn & Quarterly
A cutting portrayal of the pursuit of work-life balance from the cartoonist of Shit is Real
To achieve the proper work-life balance perhaps we just need the right therapist to coach us through our day-to-day. Anita, Sandra, and Dex have ambitions. Anita wants to move from making utility ceramics to fine-art sculpture but her pent-up dissatisfaction results in an outburst that puts her studio mate’s work at risk. Sandra juggles her practical administrative day job at a startup with her wellness-influencer channel, finding both in jeopardy when a messy affair with a coworker comes to light. In another corner of the same startup, Dex’s innovative ideas are rejected, leading him to spend his days hacking and working as a bike courier. All three are disillusioned with the daily grind. As the pressure for self-improvement builds, they end up looking to the same therapist for answers.
Soon the boundaries between work and life begin to bleed into each other and it becomes increasingly impossible to find balance. All the solace the characters expect their therapist to provide is obscured by her quirks, whims, and psycho-parlance, leading to sessions that are neglectful at best and actively inhibit growth at worst. In striking colors and trippy transformational sequences, Aisha Franz captures the comedic absurdity of contemporary work life and the wellness culture in Work Life Balance.
Aisha Franz is a comic book artist and illustrator living in Berlin. She has published four graphic novels that have been translated into multiple languages and her illustrations have appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Die Zeit Leo, and The New York Times. Her book Shit Is Real was nominated for the Los Angeles Times book Award in 2019. Together with the Berlin-based print studio Colorama she cohosts the residency project Clubhouse.