Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Ticking

Renee French's The Ticking is a beautiful graphic novel. It's not told in the traditional sense of comics; Most pages only have two illustrated boxes on them, and many only have one, with words sometimes beneath the pictures, sometimes not. There are no word balloons throughout the story either, but dialogue is written beneath some of the illustrations, and is more like a children's illustrated book in that regard (but why can't they be considered comics?). The story begins as "Edison Steelhead was born on the kitchen floor." His mother dies during childbirth, and he inherits his father's deformities, causing his father to seek out a life of solitude. Edison, however, feels no shame for his appearance and tries to find beauty in his surroundings, even in ugly places, to please his father, who seems unable to appreciate them. This book is really very beautiful. The story is bound in a dark brown hardcover, gold-embossed, and it's home to some of the best illustrations out there. I just want to say that I also love Renee's handwriting; For different characters, she uses either mixed letters (Edison's point-of-view or the narrator's), all capital letters (outsiders) or cursive (Edison's father), all of which are elegant and tight. And Edison himself sketches to some really beautiful results and designs, even if no one does appreciate them at first. This is a very touching story, although it is pretty sparce and extremely quick to get through. But in the end, for the art, it's worth it. I found out from When Fangirls Attack that there's an art exhibit in response to the Masters of American Comics' all male artists, that features the art of female comic artists (She Draws Comics: A Century of Women Cartoonists). I'm not sure who's included, but Renee French would definitely be at the top of the list if I had any say (along with Lynda Barry and Phoebe Gloeckner). She is simply one of the most interesting cartoonists out there.

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