Euripides, Anne Carson, Illustrated by Rosanna Bruno
RaveBroken FrontierCarson and Bruno employ a cast of largely dog and bird versions of the play’s characters, making use of that ironic comics convention of giving us anthropomorphic animals that we connect with more intimately despite them being visually one step removed from our own conception of humanity. Carson’s text blends modern idiom with more lyrical language, something echoed in Bruno’s loose and lively art which juxtaposes modern iconography with classical allusion. In the process they bring the thematic heart of the play to the foreground, underlining the loss not just of individual lives but also of a way of life and a culture, and the impact that war has not simply on the vanquished but also on the victors ... uses visual metaphor, inventive panel-to-panel storytelling and the specific narrative tools of comics (particular mention for the effectiveness of the chorus scenes here) together to give us a treatment of the original play that will undoubtedly prove an entry point to the work of Euripides to the uninitiated, but will also allow those familiar with the text to see it through new eyes.
RaveBroken Frontier... 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.
RaveBroken FrontierA fragile and heartfelt account of love and loss [the book] acts as both beautiful but unflinchingly honest memorial, and as a historical record of the development and the heroes of the surfing world ... the fluidity and motion of surfers in action is imaginatively captured throughout with the sea acting as a roiling canvas for the surfers’ art, dwarfing them in its natural magnificence. The liberal use of white space around images constantly invites us to stop, pause and reflect on the visual poetry of what we are observing ... It’s carefully realized in composition, portraying all the subtle idiosyncrasies, little conflicting nuances of interaction, and moments of tenderness and warmth that the reader needs in order to feel they are experiencing events rather than having them explained to them; the unsaid speaking far more eloquently here than the said ever could. In Waves is obviously a story where a sense of impending, inevitable sadness is a constant companion but it’s also, in its own delicate way, an accepting and hopeful read. Its greatest strength is that in this limited window into the lives of Kristen, her family and Dungo we connect with their stories so deeply that our empathy with events could not be more profound at story’s end. Expect this one to be on multiple ‘Best of’ lists at the end of 2019.
Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Illus. by Zosia Dzierzawska
PositiveBroken FrontierBreathing pained life into these historical figures and the forces that drove them, only occasionally does Malterre-Barthes fall into the trap of writing dialogue that feels less like conversation and more like overt exposition ... Dzierzawska’s visuals are a subtle reflection of subject matter throughout. Not simply in the color coding of the different interweaving eras of Gray’s life but through more involved visual language as well. Scenes where the blueprints for the building permeate the page as characters move through them, for example, or a sequence where Gray’s artistic process is depicted as her climbing into and interacting with her architectural plans; the latter a quite brilliant representation of creativity that succeeds without seeming indulgent or overly self-aware. It’s a vibrant and occasionally dreamy style with the frequent breaks into symbolic double-page spreads speaking to the audience on an emotionally resonant level. Throughout, slightly caricatured but recognizable characters move through more realistic backgrounds, allowing us to connect with them on a very human level ... Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun is more a book that asks us to recognize the suppression of the achievements of a pivotal voice in the arts as it is one looking to detail the minutiae of the subject’s existence ... Backed up with supplementary material it also invites the reader to investigate its subject further; a fitting aim for a book that seeks to redress a balance and give this important figure the recognition she rarely got in her own lifetime.