Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Thirty Days of CCS #6: Daryl Seitchik

Daryl Seitchik very quickly became one of my favorite cartoonists with her early work, so it's interesting to see her carry on at CCS. Her first book from Koyama Press was well-reviewed and earned an Eisner Award nomination, but Seitchik is taking the time to expand her toolkit while exploring different story concepts. Seitchik's work has often been about connection and detachment, with a deadpan self-caricature who moves about her world more than she interacts with it. There are good reasons for this, of course, but Seitchik's comics often involve alienation and even total abjection.

Because of that, it's interesting to see her more recent minis from her time at CCS. Lion Bride is a visceral, visually striking comic about a swim toward a waterfall. Even though the comic is in grayscale, the variations in shape and tone that Seitchik creates are enough to still draw the eye in so as to experience the texture of each drawing. Equating the roar of the waterfall with that of a lion bride and the white water taking the shape of the lion's mane. The text is spare but poetic, as she sees in the waterfall the bride tearing her veil when the water starts to spray out, described as "her raging calm". It's a meditation on cycles, on nature and even gender, as the mighty bride is laid low in her inevitable fall. The key to depicting this mixture of stillness and violence is Seitchik's visceral, immersive line.

Message From The Moon is an adaptation of a story from the Khoikoi people of southwest Africa. Here, Seitchik works off of a six panel grid template, breaking it from time to time to show a single image with four panels, for example. There's lots of zip-a-tone effects and some heavily spotted blacks. The story is about the sad moon trying to relate to the people that death is not the end, but every attempt it made to tell them directly scared them even more. So the spider took it upon itself to go from the moon to the earth on its web to tell them, but it was taking way too long. Hare appeared and offered to take the message, but he left before getting the whole thing and terrified the humans even more. The moon punished hare by blowing on him, permanently splitting his lip. Finally, spider decides to go on alone, finally making it to the surface. There, the arachnid realized that words alone would not be sufficient reassurance, so they made a web in the window of a house that needed to be rebuilt. This is a beautiful, vivid strip that flows in Seitchik's vernacular of loosened lingo, restrained cartooning and tight premise.

Norma #1 promises to be a continuing series, with a beautiful watercolor color, which is yet another new direction for her. It's the story of a cyclopean girl living in a small house near "the edge of the fire woods", who tended her garden and had her nose in a book on a constant basis. In this first chapter, her house Stephanie yells at her for not fixing her roof in a delightful series of drawings. Seitchik greatly loosened up her page composition for this comic, as panels sort of bleed into each other with decorative branches or acting as part of a cliff. The sequence where her house truly begins to have anthropomorphic qualities and gets angry is startling and funny. She leaves off on a cliffhanger, as the rain stops coming, which means that the trees will eventually be unable to stay on fire. This combination of fable and magical realism is a nice match for Seitchik's restrained style and eye for surreal imagery.

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