Time Under Tension – MS Harkness


264 p. – b&w – 15 x 19 cm – softcover.
Fantagraphics – 2023 – ISBN 9781683968962



M.S. Harkness is graduating from art school in Minneapolis and facing a crossroads in life. She has a strained relationship with her mother, a sexually abusive father on parole, and is in love with an aspiring MMA fighter who mostly hangs out with her to get high and already has a girlfriend and career prospects with a fight promotion. An art career feels untenable — as one professor tells her, “Don’t expect to get by on this fucked-up broke girl shit.” She decides to get a personal trainer’s certificate — it seems like a feasible and sensible career option — but continues to dabble as a sex worker and weed dealer because the money is too irresistible. With idle hands due to no classes or full-time work, M.S. has ample time to aimlessly fuck around — or, to get her shit together. “I want to be better, I want to be stable and solid. I don’t want to keep aimlessly shifting between untenable situations.”

Time Under Tension, Harkness’s third graphic memoir, picks up after the events of Tinderella and Desperate Pleasures as she enters the adult world dragging a heavy load of childhood baggage.