Doctor’s office waiting rooms, commercials, dog parks, and dating app screenshots capture the experiences and interior lives of the cyclops community; a largely immigrant population displaying physical differences from the majority.
The current, intense political climate allows us to immediately pair each character’s situation to a very real physical and psychological human experience, which Dhaliwal constantly contrasts with old-world ideas and norms ... The simple, quick line-art style partners really nicely with the colouring by Nikolas Ilic. Prior to publication, the novel was serialized on Instagram. The nature of Instagram’s aesthetic, with its daily panels, as well as the ideas it brings up against fake vs. real life, make the platform a perfect museum for the story. It’s fun to imagine this story coming out as a newspaper comic in earlier times. Reading the comics over breakfast, taking a look into how hypocrisy and prejudice can affect people, would have been a great meditation before the workday started. Today, it’s an all too relevant reminder that we should get to know our neighbours.
As they follow this extended Cyclopes crew, Dhaliwal’s episodic comics, expressive and nimble line drawings that she first serialized on Instagram, entertain with relatable scenarios and clever twists. They also point to deeper meanings of existing outside of a powerful majority and the importance of telling one’s own story. An appendix summarizes characters, their mythological inspirations, and Dhaliwal’s insights into creating them.
Dhaliwal’s art is charming and expressive ... Dhaliwal places funny, surprising details ... The struggle of the cyclops unfolds in metaphors for race, sexuality, gender, and disability, tangling with ideas about fetishization, interracial relationships, passing, and representation. But it also can slip, frustratingly, into didactic tendencies ... despite these missteps, when it works, it works ... I challenge any marginalized person to say that they haven’t had the exact same conversation about a book or film or television show created by someone with their shared identity—the overwhelming sense of responsibility placed on glass-ceiling breakers, yes, but also the desire to be seen as you truly are, and on your own terms.