Hannah is a thirty-something wife, home-health worker, and antiwar activist. Her husband, Johnny, is a stay-at-home pothead working on building them a house before the winter chill sets in. They're currently living in the back of a truck, hoping for a pregnancy. Davis's projections probe at current anxieties in a cautionary tale that begs the question: What will happen after tomorrow?
Hannah’s experience is highly specific, and because Davis’ storytelling is so natural and lived in, Hannah’s feelings of uncertainty and fear become universal to anyone who feels a surge of panic when they hear about current events ... Davis’ art style is vital to this emotional rapport. When you simplify a character drawing, it becomes easier for the observer to project their own identity onto it...This simplification is an essential reason why cartooning is such an expressive art, and Davis is a master of creating distinct characters with minimalist linework that invites deeper personal connection from the reader. The acting is full of emotion, and Davis captures facial expressions, body language, and gestures with curving, wiry lines that imbue the artwork with both spontaneity and grace ... Davis does not create joyless art. No matter how intense the subject matter, she finds moments of humor that make the reader want to spend time with these characters and emotionally invest in their struggles ... These design decisions all play a part in the book’s emotional tapestry, but the high point of this intersection between design and narrative comes during the book’s final pages. Like the gun moment, it’s a sequence where the act of holding is very important, presenting five two-page splashes all from the same point of view and drawn to scale. This puts the reader even deeper inside the holder’s perspective, and the book’s size is what sells the effect. Each small change from splash page to splash page increases the gravity of the life-affirming event, ending the story by presenting readers with a physical embodiment of hope in the palm of their hands.
Books sometimes come around at such a timely moment, and speak to you in such a precise way, that it’s almost alarming ... so close to home I almost dropped The Hard Tomorrow in shock twenty pages in ... Davis’ narrative, which unfolds slowly and then sheds awful layers like a dying plant before its final cathartic and beautiful conclusion, doesn’t just speak to those of us who make it our business to do something about the way the world is heading. Its narrative strength is going beyond its narrow corridors of story, in which we see very few people other than its principles in any depth or color, to remind us that even we don’t seek to change the world, the world comes after us and changes us. The tragedies and victories of Hannah and Johnny skirt around being mere escalations of drama for the sake of plot and make a mad dash towards the end, providing a purely exhilarating reminder that hope and despair are two strands forever intertwined, and that living through both of them is a struggle we all face no matter how we try to position ourselves ... Davis has narrative gifts, but they’d be wasted if she wasn’t such a tremendous illustrator. From the book’s gorgeously colored, Edenic cover to its wordless and striking final pages, her skill at composition buoys the story at every turn, creating a seamless whole that makes it one of the best comics I’ve read in a particularly rich year for the medium. It’s sexy, gripping, funny, dark, and moody, with the outdoor scenes pastoral and bright and the urban drama surrounded by pools of black ink and claustrophobic angles. There are so many perfect little details ... the culmination of a steady progression in [Davis'] work that is now so fully realized it demands our attention ... this is a book that finds that razor’s edge between irrelevance and datedness and balances there with the expertise of a gymnast.
Davis illustrates her story simply; her pen-and-ink drawings render Hannah’s world in black and white, which feels like an echo of Hannah’s inner life. She is struggling to determine whether the world is stark and binary, either good or bad, or whether there are shades of gray ... Throughout, Davis subtly hints at a tension between Hannah’s idyllic, almost Eden-like existence in the woods with Johnny and the outside world, which threatens their loving harmony ... The Hard Tomorrow makes me feel understood, and it’s a reminder that even if everything is awful, much is beautiful. The world renews itself, over and over. Spring, at least, will come. We keep going.