One of the biggest takeaways from Roberts’ comics is that nothing is too small to appreciate. She’s always been enthralled by tiny objects and dolls, a recurring motif in Rat Time, and her books are largely composed of relatively insignificant personal interactions that perk up her spirit. That focus on small things informs Roberts’ art, and some of the most detailed elements of her work are these objects ... The relationship between Roberts and her daughter is the strongest emotional through line of her books, and it’s a delight to see how that relationship changes as Xia grows up ... [Roberts] is in a much more comfortable place in her latest book.
... because the work is not confined by boundaries, that doesn’t mean they are out of control. They are, in fact, kept in check by Roberts’ deadpan style that does well in relating everyday events because everyday is, most typically, deadpan, thanks to a lack of awareness by the players that we are right in the middle of it ... A large part of Roberts’ comics center around the relationship between she and her daughter Xia, who functions as a perfect partner for Roberts in the area of witty banter and matter-of-fact conclusions ... Even as the scenes shuffle on, the deadpan quality is like a signal to pause and consider what you just read before you go onto the next scene, and so the book can move quickly from a therapy session to an incident while sledding to an exchange with Roberts’ father, but in each, the moment to breath and consideration does come ... the work of a person who’s taking a lot in and passing on as much as she can, but also paying attention to it all despite it’s girth. It’s just normal life, but Roberts has a good hold on the meanings that accompany the action. Rat Time shifts from a moment spent with pet rats to a moment spent with the creatures in your mind, examining, relating, appreciating, at whatever the pace.
... another fine example of the artist’s distinctive voice in the world of autobiographical comics ... With a quiet authority she can imbue the seemingly trivial with a universal profoundness; life’s quieter moments having an echoing resonance that we can all identify with. Because in a Keiler Roberts book the richness of the human experience is embedded in the very minutiae of existence ... Again it’s those small things that Roberts details in her musings that grab our attention ... Illustrated with Roberts’ usual accessible layouts and deft comedic/dramatic timing, Rat Time is replete with a line in often almost exasperated visual characterisation that reminds us that sometimes there’s a triumph in just keeping going. As ever, Roberts’ always likeable warts and all, unfiltered portrayal of herself and her thought processes underlines that simply coping with life’s everyday challenges is something we are not alone in. In Rat Time the profound and the ephemeral are bound up in an unlikely union, and it’s in that contradiction that the relatability, familiarity and truth of this quite remarkable autobio creator’s work resides.
On the back-cover blurb, Lisa Hanawalt calls Roberts' books 'diary comics', but I disagree...The flow and arc of Rat Time are too artful to be the product of daily happenstance ... The transitions are brief and intuitive, providing just enough structure for the juxtapositions to do the storytelling ... Roberts doesn't have to tell her readers that these recollections of dead pets are really about her aging parents and the not-yet-detectable decay of her own body. Stating it would make it too dramatic, too obvious, too much like fiction. The pets are also about the pets ... Some of the most touching moments in Rat Time are full-page, uncaptioned images of pets and humans in quiet contact ... Roberts takes us through a curated set of vignettes, creating a fragmented but still cohesive flow of events that resists the norms of plot while still providing its pleasures. There as many small and touching and gently comical moments in this story.
Fans of the Ignatz award-winning comic artist Keiler Roberts will not be disappointed by her latest autobiographical work ... readers will enjoy Roberts’ deadpan humor and wry wit mixed with a few poignant moments ... The comic artist moves seamlessly from one topic to another in much the same way as a conversation unfolds between two close friends, with tangents and natural segues between topics ... brings to light funny, ironic moments of everyday life that most of us overlook. The magic of her work is just how relatable those moments are, without any plotting or drama—two important components of fiction. Not only would her approach, wit and material not be as enjoyable written as fiction, but readers would also not have that immediate access to her world through her art. Ultimately, Roberts’ work is best suited to right where it is: comics.
Keiler Roberts is a droll documentarian, unfaltering in her ability to find humour and levity in her life’s unflattering moments ... Despite the events in the book being short, simple, and disparate, Roberts maintains a slow, meandering pace, as we sit in the mundanity of the moment. It feels calmly honest, as her slightly rough but simple lines and layouts slide us through her life ... The subtle efficacy of Roberts’s approach is remarkable, leaving a book that feels honest and alive ... a really lovely and organic way to build the world that requires a confidence in craft that a lot of creators don’t have ... There seems to be an understandable hesitance in the portrayals of people outside of Keiler, Roberts only has the full set of information about herself. What this leaves is a sense of alienation from the world around our protagonist, an alienation that doesn’t feel uncommon to certain parts of parenthood and illness. Keiler Roberts builds an idea of herself in changing, loose, and at times intangible contexts. Rat Time paints a uniquely interior picture of a person through a series of subtle and innocuous moments.
Roberts continues to gently guide readers on meandering, illuminating rambles through the quotidian ... The stream-of-consciousness storytelling and preoccupation with mundane details—cooking, driving, going through the routines of childcare, pondering questions such as 'What makes me cry?'—recall pioneering autobio zine-ster John Porcellino. But Roberts’s stark, distanced visual style and abrupt humor is all her own. Her narrative threads seem constantly in danger of fraying into nothing before looping back to repeating images, themes, and the occasional gut punch. Roberts defines her philosophy: 'the world is precious and its detail is remarkable'; her graphic memoir embodies that attentive spirit.