Making Rain

By Ursula Murray Husted
56 pages, two-color
Published by Apocalyptic Tangerine

I consider myself very lucky in that I didn’t have any relatives close to me die until I was an adult. The grief of that sort of loss is always difficult for me to handle now, but the idea of doing so when I was more emotional and still trying to figure out life is a near-terrifying thought. Reading Ursula Murray Husted’s Making Rain, though, gives me a glimpse into one possible outcome of what such an experience at a younger age would’ve been like.

Sara loved her grandma Ava very much, so when Ava died it was understandably upsetting. Having to go through such a loss is made harder by her feelings about her younger sister Rosie, the actions of her parents, and of course, boys.

This is the first story of Husted’s I’ve read, and it’s a good debut. Husted touches down on the major moments that occur after Ava’s death, from the initial discovery, to the pain of packing away her belongings, to the lashing out at her friend Jimmy. Making Rain is more a set of vignettes than a continuous narrative, and it helps give a “big picture” to the book. There’s a nice symmetry to the story, with rain opening and closing Making Rain. Where at the beginning rain is a symbol of Sara’s family’s grief, the final rainstorm is a release, as Sara begins to let go of her sadness and come to terms with her loss. Really, my biggest complaint is that I wished that Making Rain was 128 pages, because I wanted to read more about Husted’s characters. The vignettes were strong, but I’d have loved to see some more bridging material between them because there’s so much still untold here.

Making Rain uses a two-color printing process (blue and brown) and it’s beautiful. Husted seems to draw her characters almost as outlines, using just dashes and strokes of brown to carve them into being. By using the blue ink as a background color, Husted’s able to really end up with a third color, with the off-white color of the paper being the added hue on the page. As attractive as Husted’s way of drawing people turns out, I think artistically my favorite part of Making Rain is how Husted draws rain falling from the sky. It seems to be almost as solid as hail, each droplet making an impact as it streaks across the page and smashes into the dry soil. The initial panels of blue streaks on a brown background really jump out at the reader, and it’s a striking look that sets the visual tone of Making Rain for the rest of the book.

Husted has self-published Making Rain, but to be honest it wouldn’t have surprised me to see it at a company like Top Shelf Productions. Making Rain looks slick and professional, and I think that after you read it, you’ll also be wanting to see Husted’s next comic as soon as possible. You can order Making Rain from Husted’s website (yes, she takes PayPal!) but hopefully we’ll see Making Rain in stores everywhere before too long. This is too good to be kept secret for long.

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