Guirlanda. Kramsky and Mattotti (Casterman)

A familiar story. One could call this book an epic, a saga, a quest, a spiritual voyage, a family drama, an ode to the reenchantment of the world, a research into freedom. But at the end of the day, the purpose of Guirlanda is to present us with a familiar story.

A hefty tome with almost 400 pages, with soft cardboard covers and what feels like an embossed title, Guirlanda promises from the start an uncommon experience. On the surface, it may seem that this is quite a straightforward story, and it is so, to a certain extent. The time signature is linear, there’s a very conservative page composition approach, and despite the sub-division of the reader’s attention on two or three parallel storylines, they all diverge from the same point and end up united. But the path that the book invites us to traverse is found, as the cliché goes, in the journey itself.  Continue reading “Guirlanda. Kramsky and Mattotti (Casterman)”

Boundless. Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

This volume collects 9 short stories. Jillian Tamaki had some published before in a number of anthologies such as Nobrow and Frontier, as well as online. There is also new work, perhaps some of which created especially for this book, given its final, coordinated look. For instances, the two book-end pieces, “World-Class City” and “Boundless”, are presented sideways, where each spread acting like a singular vertical image, that you read as if you were flipping through a calendar. The other pieces are presented in the upright fashion, ranging from 12 to 20-something page stories, although it also includes what seems to be a previously unpublished free-form poetic yonkoma and a loose page, that acts as the back cover of the book. The first effect that they have, as a whole, is how different they seem to be in tone from her previous graphic novel-sized work, either Skim [Portuguese only] and This One Summer (with cousin Mariko Tamaki) and SuperMutant Magic Academy. Most of the characters in these stories are grown-ups, the actions see more open-ended, the storytelling more daring. Not that Tamaki’s larger works have no experimental dimensions, or no moments that explore less conventional fashions of investigating their characters’ inner life, but they are indeed distinct phases within larger, flowing narratives. Here, those unconventional strategies, as the surprising variedness of page composition, are the center of the pieces. Still, they do not hamper at all the engagement of the reader with these people. Continue reading “Boundless. Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)”

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