Sunday, December 4, 2022

31 Days Of CCS, #4: Faith Cox

Faith Cox's Singularity is an elegant, beautiful meditation on loneliness. It's a great example of using sci-fi trappings to dramatize particular feelings in a direct, pointed way that would be more difficult in a non-genre setting. This is less a story than it is a mood, as it follows a young woman affected by a "dimensional distortion" in her home. What this amounts to is her seeing the life of a young woman in a parallel dimension in her space. The other woman can't see her in any way, and she's completely intangible. 

At first, this experience is unnerving, because of its casual invasiveness. Soon, however, the narrator not only gets used to her, but she also starts to welcome her presence. Notably, she starts changing the way she thinks about her. At first, she referred to the distortion as an "it." A phenomenon, like a UFO or a ghost. Soon, however, she starts referring to her sort-of roommate as "she," and comes to admire her. When the distortion comes home one night crying, she tries to comfort her. She even moves her bed to the same location as the distortion to create a greater sense of intimacy. When the distortion finally disappears (there's a funny bit of exposition at the beginning that explains the repair process), there's a moment where it seems the distortion acknowledges her presence for a moment before disappearing. 

Cox uses a lot of visual tricks to make the story more effective. The narrator is drawn in black-and-white, but the protagonist is a sort of translucent pink. Cox uses an open-page layout throughout the comic, a technique that's effective because it reflects the blurring of her life and the distortion's life. There's a page where she pulls out a technique from the Richard McGuire/Chris Ware playbook where there are dozens of panels on the page in overlapping layers, once again dramatically displaying their overlapping--but not connected--lives. Cox notes in an afterword that she wrote it during quarantine, a lonely time for many where parasocial relationships on the internet were all the contact that many people had. That anecdote was interesting but unnecessary, as the comic clearly conveys not just loneliness and a longing to connect, but also a sense of wishing she was more like this person. It's an understandable, but not entirely healthy, reaction to her presence, in the same way that social media is something we can allow to disrupt our lives. Cox's cartooning is solid, anchoring the visual tricks she uses by emphasizing gesture and the awkwardness of wanting to relate to another body in space but not being able to. 

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