Shortly after the Dallas Observer launched in 1980, Marian Henley's comic strip Maxine became a weekly feature, almost as popular as the personals. The Dallas native's strip, featuring her alternately giddy and neurotic alter-ego, wound up becoming a national hit: In time it would spread to the LA Weekly and Glamour, among myriad publications, and even spawn till Henley retired the strip in 2003 following publication of a best-of compilation.
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Which isn't to suggest she's stopped writing: This month will see the publication of her "graphic memoir" The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story, about her decision to adopt a 6-month-old Russian boy and the impact it had on her relationship with a longtime, long-distance boyfriend. And on the day of its release, September 15, Henley will read from and sign copies of The Shiniest Jewel at the Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Park, beginning at 7 p.m. It even comes with the endorsement of fellow former Dallas cartoonist Dan Piraro, who logrolls, "An artfully told story of love, death, birth, and bureaucracy." --Robert Wilonsky