Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jessica Farm (Volume 1)

Josh Simmons
This is the first volume of Josh Simmons’s ambitious project where he will draw one page of this book a month over the next 42 years until he has a 600-page single graphic novel in the year 2050. Until then, he will graciously publish one Jessica Farm volume every eight years, this being the first, its initial page having been drawn in January of 2000. Josh Simmons recently earned acclaim for his silent horror graphic novel House, published last year. And while Jessica Farm has moments of horror, it’s mostly a fantasy story about, well, Jessica Farm. It’s Christmas Day and Jessica makes the rounds to all of the fantastic creatures who live in the walls, the shower, and the attic of her house (among other places), putting off the beating she’s sure to get when she opens the presents that await her underneath the Christmas Tree downstairs. Very alike Alice In Wonderland, Jessica meets ups with all manner of little people, monsters and animals, although some encounters are bloody, sexual or dangerous. But it all seems to be a fantasy world she’s made up to escape the harsh reality of life with her abusive father, touching on plenty of subjects sure to be running through the mind of an adolescent girl, and some more twisted thoughts that may stem from her household. Josh Simmons has a lot of room to play with here in this exercise of the imagination, and what he ends up with is a captivating playground of wonderful characters. I was surprised to find that, among the beautiful art, I didn’t see much progression of Simmons’s style from the beginning of the book to the end, especially given the eight years it took him to draw the thing, but perhaps in 2050 when the entire work is complete, the changes will be more apparent. Until then though, we can look forward to the regular installments that will be published over the creator’s lifetime.

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