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Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers


Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers


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Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into Black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon as ladies gossip and bond over the burn. The titular story is about a young girl’s first perm: a doomed ploy to look cool and stop seeming “too white” in her family's new all-Black neighbourhood. In “My Lil Sister Lena,” Lena is the only Black player on a white softball team—and when her teammates touch and debate her hair at will, she develops trichotillomania. Among her stories, Ebony Flowers re-creates classic magazine ads that idealized Black women’s need for hair relaxers and other products. “Change your hair form to fit your life form” and “Kinks and Koils Forever,” call customers from the pages of this sweet, insightful, and heartbreaking collection.

Selected praise:

"With Hot Comb, Ebony Flowers has created one that’s particularly engaging, with a mixture of day-to-day events and compelling storytelling that shows she deserves to be seen as a breakout talent."—Toronto Star

"Vivid and resonant… In the eight stories of Hot Comb, a mix of autobiography and fiction, the thread throughout is black women’s hair — as a source of intimacy, community and tension." —The New York Times Book Review

"[An] exhilarating collection...All of the stories in [Hot Comb] confront the attitudes inscribed in the commonplace language of black hair that is wild, untamed, and raw in its natural state, and yet so fragile when fixed that it can be undone by a drop of water.— The Comics Journal

"This rich collection of comics brilliantly explores the ways that Black women and girls use hair care to console, construct, and criticize themselves and one another."— School Library Journal

"[Hot Comb is] rich with both sorrow and celebration as it champions black womanhood and family ties... How black hair is treated (literally and symbolically) becomes the lens to explore both oppression and community... Vibrant and immersive."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"These complex stories about the ‘ordinary’ lives of black girls, mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmas, nieces, and friends are extraordinary. What Ebony Flowers brings to comics is fresh and absolutely groundbreaking. I’ve been waiting for a book like this forever."—artist-author Lynda Barry

"Hot Comb will take every Black woman back to her first relaxer—not just the process itself but the peer pressure to 'perm' and the unexpected reactions in the aftermath. Flowers shows us why it's always about more than just hair. What a delightful read!"—Dr Cheryl Thompson, author of Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada's Black Beauty Culture

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