Spinning. Tillie Walden (First Second)

Throughout pages tinted in distant, icy and chilly blues, Tillie Walden holds our hands and takes us through a journey on adolescence and all the difficult tasks and choices that it entails. This is an autobiographical book, and it adheres to the consolidated rules of the genre within comics. While it does not rewrite the expectations we may have on graphic memoirs, it accomplishes a moving, skilled and engrossing narrative, that perfectly mirrors the feelings of a young girl growing up.  Continue reading “Spinning. Tillie Walden (First Second)”

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José Alaniz: the “Komiks” interview

This short interview dates back to early 2011, when I reviewed José Alaniz’ Komiks. Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi), along with Fredrik Strömberg’s Swedish Comics History (The Swedish Comics Association) and the anthology Compendium of Romanian Comic Art. The Book of George (Hard Comics), in attempt, perhaps failed, of writing a comparative review of how to be introduced to comics traditions fairly unknown and underexposed outside their own countries and communities (once again, in Portuguese only). Continue reading “José Alaniz: the “Komiks” interview”

Paysage après la bataille. Éric Lambé et Philippe de Pierpont (Actes Sud/Frémok)

What are words good for when considering war?

A woman visits a museum, where she seems lost in her own thoughts: the museum guard has to wake her up from the reverie and ask her to leave. She is looking at a diorama staging a brutal battlefield. (The book does not state it explicitly, but one surmises it to be the Waterloo diorama, found at the Mémorial 1815, a favourite spot for school visits in Belgium) We see lying corpses, severed limbs, falling horses and their falling riders, spoils of war. The woman is carrying a travelling bag, she seems alone. She leaves the museum, grabs a taxi and heads to an isolated trailer park where she rents a place to stay for a while. Questions start to form in the reader’s mind. Is she travelling? Where is she going? Or is she running from somewhere? Who is the child in the picture she props on the shelf above her bed? What is its function: a little personal touch in the bleak trailer? An object of solace? Spoils of war?

Continue reading “Paysage après la bataille. Éric Lambé et Philippe de Pierpont (Actes Sud/Frémok)”

Le Collectionneur de Briques. Pedro Burgos (6 pieds sous terre)

Pedro Burgos’ short whimsical novella, Le collectioneur de briques, is about a middle-age architect going down the rabbit hole of his own obsessions, after both a professional crash and a personal trauma. Valerio used to be a busy architect back in the day, but after the financial crisis hit Portugal, his studio went bankrupt. He had at least a pet project: rehabilitating a small building he owns. However, Valerio must deal with two significant obstacles. On the one hand, his son-in-law is pressuring him to sell the building for people who want to flip it into an airbnb-style business, most likely, as Lisbon is becoming increasingly gentrified and commodified for global tourism. On the other hand, he is slowly trying to recover from an amnesia provoked after he was assaulted, accidentally, by homeless people that were living in the building. Continue reading “Le Collectionneur de Briques. Pedro Burgos (6 pieds sous terre)”

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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