Monday, March 25, 2013

Around the World: Loge, Machado, Pereira, Astromanta/Hetamoe

I get comics from all over the world. Let's dip into a sampling of such work.

Lies Die Kind, by Lilli Loge. Loge notes that the title's meaning in German ("Read the child") applies as much to this portrayal of trauma and lost memory as does the English meaning, though neither meaning is entirely applicable. It's about lacunae, gaps in memory that feel like holes ripped out of one's brain in much the same way that Loge hand-ripped out a hole in each one of the covers of this comic. The comic isn't so much a narrative (it's about something lost, after all) as it is a series of representations of knowing that something horrible is missing from one's memory but that it's completely lost. Loge's linework goes from exquisite and detailed to cartoony and scratchy, depending on how she chooses to represent this phenomenon. She also uses a bunch of interesting formal tricks, like a post-it note on a blank page that features a rabbit saying "Got a mind like a sieve? Better take notes!" Loge also depicts the struggle as two young women portraying different parts of the brain, with one unable to communicate to another what has been forgotten; she has forgotten that she has even forgotten anything, and getting upset about it makes the situation even worse. It's a brief, powerful and striking attempt to get at an interesting idea. Loge is an extremely clever cartoonist who puts her formal inventiveness to good use.

Megafauna/Inner Math, by Joao Machado and Andre' Pereira. This mini is a flipbook, with each artist contributing one story that meets in the middle. Megafauna represents the distant past, while Inner Math tells of the far future. Both are about evolution and freedom, and the way that the struggle for both is literally a life-or-death affair. Megafauna shows the birth of the first sentient humanoid creature in a savage environment, and how its existence activates and angers the presence of the gods in the form of a many-headed elephantine creature. Inner Math is about a distopian future where a single human is bred to combat the decay of society, navigating its structures and bringing it back in touch with nature. Here, the state (or science, or religion) plays the same role as the gods in the first story, angry about humanity's attempts to evolve and better itself. The baby born in the first story is essentially another iteration of the human designed to run the gauntlet of the repressive future. Pereira's art in Megafauna is appropriately visceral and harsh, cutting up his pages into horizontal panels interspersed with EKG readouts indicating the brain activity of the new child. Machado's lettering in his story is a bit hard to parse at times, but I liked the way he used smudges, inserted diagramatic marks on his pages and mixed freehand drawings with what look like drafted structures. Both artists use greyscale to strong effect, modulating the lightness and darkness of individual images to create ghostly appearances. This is intriguing work.

Idle Odalisque, by Astromanta and Hetamoe.This odd and lovingly-made comic is crudely-drawn in manga style. The artists (writer and artist) tell the story of a young woman going about her day as she gets ready to go to work. It's just that her job is being a streetwalker. The comic is very much in the tradition of magical realism, as her world sparkles and she winds up going home with a talking bear who prefers to talk and play scrabble than have sex. There's a matter-of-factness about this story that I enjoyed. The crudeness of the line actually made it more attractive to my eyes, since I find typical shojo-style art to be painful to look at in its slick cuteness. I'm not entirely sure where the artists are going with this; it feels like a bit of a lark. Both this mini and the preceding mini came from Portugal, by the way; click on the link to see more work on a dedicated tumblr.

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