I draw comics … how can I share this with him?
by Geneviève Castrée
Drawn and Quarterly
review by BK Munn
I’ve been a fan of the Quebec-born cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée for some years now but her small body of published comics hasn’t really found a large audience in North America. To date, a few short books published in French by boutique Montreal publisher L’Oie de Cravan, some art accompanying her recordings (she has performed as the uniquely-named Woelv and as Ô PAON), and two short comics appearing in the anthologies Kramers Ergot and Drawn and Quarterly Showcase are almost all that we have seen from her in 10 year since her debut. That’s why the publication of this autobiographical graphic memoir by D+Q is something of an event; the first long-form comics work by a unique talent with a fully-evolved style and distinctly beautiful worldview.
Susceptible tells the story of Castrée’s childhood and adolescence as an only child raised by a single mother in Quebec City and her growth as an individual and artist. Her narrative stunningly and sensitively captures isolated memories of emotional extremes (innocence, confusion, terror, self-pity, love) delineated with sumptuous brushwork and inventive cartooning. Starting from her earliest childhood memories of being abandoned by her Anglo father, Castrée leads us through the labyrinth of a complex, suffocating relationship with her mother and antagonistic stepfather, past elementary traumas (housefires, The Montreal Massacre), teenage rebellion (drugs, booze, Sonic Youth), on to eventual rapprochement with her birth father in the wilds of British Columbia and adult freedom.
Baptized by a sorcerer in the woods of Quebec (no, really, it’s in the book!), Castrée’s cartoon world is the hybrid offspring of Hergé, Croc magazine, and Claire Bretécher; her clear-line drawings have an organic fluidity, with plenty of inky grey washes, globular word balloons and diaristic cursive lettering giving her comics a distinct personality chock-full of memorable individual images and pages. Susceptible is a lyrical, snowy, atmospheric introduction to a major talent.
Castrée on tour