Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Lagoon

Lilli Carre
Lilli Carre (Tales of Woodsman Pete) makes her full length graphic novel debut in the utterly beautiful graphic novel The Lagoon, put out by Fantagraphics Books. The dark, moody book follows a family that lives near a lagoon, where sometimes at night, the people who live nearby hear a beautiful sound that draws them to the body of water, and sometimes to their deaths. At the heart of this melody is a swamp creature whose intentions are unclear, but who affects those who hear its song in varying ways, whether it interacts with them individually or puts on a performance for a crowd. What really makes this book special is Carre's uncanny ability to convey atmosphere. This title just oozes dread as she paints shadowy panels of windy nights, wind chimes clanking amid falling leaves, or the depths of the lagoon, bubbles lazily floating to the surface above waving seaweed. There's a real sense of magic and wonder in her work that makes The Lagoon feel like much more than a simple story. I remember first noticing Carre when she illustrated the cover for the 2006 Best American Comics anthology. I loved the comic illustration - it was simple and just very pretty. And so I was able to recognize Lilli's handiwork instantly when I saw the cover to The Lagoon (it might be the noses) and gave the beautiful little book a shot. In the end, it's a wholly unique experience that marks a great talent with the ability to transport readers directly into her work. It may be a little bizarre or unsettling, or may leave readers scratching their heads wondering what the point of it all is, but one thing's certain: it's enchanting and captivating, and a quiet wonderful book such as this should not be overlooked.

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