Three new graphic novels/memoirs that explore mind/body issues.
Reviewed by BK Munn
by Line Gamache
translated by KerryAnn Cochrane
The second Gamache book from Conumdrum’s BDAng imprint, Poof! is an extended metaphor about the perils of the creative act. It follows Gamache on her quest to retrieve her lost “inspiration”, a freaky trickster being that springs out of her mouth and runs away on a cross-country chase through a weird fantasy-land. Gamache has a goofy, rubbery, highschool notebook art style and the comic comes across as a somewhat naive cross between a Julie Doucet dream sequence and Heinz Edelmann’s designs for Yellow Submarine. The “writer’s block” plot and Gamache’s theme of “if you follow your inspiration you will create art” are either laboured or charming, depending on your mood, and are partly redeemed by a few comic touches, including the arch comments of Gamache’s dog Kiki, a sort of surreal version of Tintin’s Snowy who is sometimes the smartest person in the room .
by Lesley Fairfield
This is a graphic novel about anorexia told from the point of view of “Anna” but based on cartoonist Lesley Fairfield’s harrowing thirty-year battle with the “tyranny” of anorexia and bulimia. Fairfield has a loose, appealingly scribbly style that gives a light-comic undertone to her narrative but also makes her expressive characters sympathetic and “approachable” which, in terms of getting across the theme of her book, that body image issues and eating disorders are near universal but conquerable with therapy and the help of friends and family, is more important in this type of book than in a traditional autobio memoir. In this sense, Fairfield’s background in advertising stands her in good stead, enhancing what at times threatens to become a cliched talky self-help memoir with humour and easy-to-follow graphics.
A Mess of Everything
by Miss Lasko-Gross
This is the second volume in a trilogy of partly autobio school memoirs from this young cartoonist. Author stand-in Melissa experiences highschool as an outsider artist-type, with an anorexic best friend, drug experimentation, faltering attempts at sex, and generalized suburban angst. The book is broken up into a series of short chapters illustrating humiliating episodes, arguments and epiphanies, accompanied by Lasko-Gross’ thought-balloon-encased commentary, rants and self-help-style pep-talks. Within this framework, Lasko-Gross covers the usual Holden Caulfield territory with brevity and an eye for detail. Her cartooning is very expressive and the book is coloured in subdued wash-like tones of brown, grey, and blue that enhance the emotional impact of her cringe-worthy struggles for independance and individuality.