It’s been a bad year in almost every regard, but I must have read some books, right? Well, not that many to be honest, but I did have to good fortune to come across these gems and I urge you to check them out too.
‘Veripathy’ – Andy Poyaidgi [self-published]
This is a small but smart title on the self-publishing scene and was released at ELCAF this year. The controlled reservation of the illustration style coupled with the weight of the subject, is a subtle yet unsettling pairing, and this slightly darker and edgier turn for Poyaidgi is a rewarding switch. The clear drawing and structure, combined with the deadpan, documentary-style narrative, make this pocket-sized, sci-fi musing, definitely one to pick up. It won’t take long to consume, but it will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.
‘A City Inside’ – Tillie Walden [Avery Hill Publishing]
Tillie’s meteoric rise is a wonder to behold; she made it onto my ‘Best of’ list last year with I Love This Part and she’s here in 2016 with this moving, beautiful and drifting narrative. Essentially it is the simple story of a character exploring her past and analysing her emotional life via some form of therapy, but for my money it’s her best work to date. The writing is even sharper and more acutely observed and the artwork is as stunning as ever, integrating real and fantastic images so seamlessly that you are effortlessly transported into another world.
‘5,000km Per Second’ – Manuele Fior [Fantagraphics]
I think this came out a couple of years ago, but only got its English translation in 2016. For me, this is a superb use of the medium; the narrative deftly crossing continents and moments in time, joining the dots in a relationship between the two central characters. The watercolour artwork perfectly captures the variety of landscapes and locations the characters move through, creating beautiful and immersive environments in which this story of the absurdity of life plays out. As tragic and moving as it is uplifting and hopeful.
‘Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure’ – Steven Tillotson [Avery Hill Publishing]
I have been looking forward to this book ever since I first came across Tillotson’s Untitled Ape web comic and it is certainly worth the wait. The title itself is probably the best synopsis I could give, as to try and explain further would be pointless. Instead, I urge you to jump in with no preconceptions or comparisons (also, I really can’t think of any) and you will be rewarded with a wonderful tale of bizarre fantasy, darkness and friendship. All this is combined with a wonderful dry wit that is present throughout, making this gem of a book completely uncategorizable, and all the better for it.
‘Beverly’ – Nick Drnaso [Drawn & Quarterly]
I’m a big fan of the ‘several short stories that are interrelated’ genre (if that is a genre), and this is one such example where it is used to great effect. Dark, interesting and constantly shifting, Beverly follows several seemingly banal, domestic stories which all turn out to be not quite what they seem. The whole book has an eerie sense of foreboding that, coupled with the bright, colourful and deceptively naïve drawing style, makes for a sometimes uncomfortable, but completely addictive read.