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Renee French


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

Renée is definitely more at the abstract rather than adorable end of her approach to comics here, probably due to the fact that this work represents a period of time when she was struggling with bad migraine headaches and err... an Argentine ant infestation. As a consequence it's actually a story told wholly in metaphor in two distinct parts, though in reality it is the same wordless story, told on opposing pages throughout the book. That it's one story isn't completely apparent though until the final page, when you realise you've been reading one of the two stories in reverse and in fact the correct reading order is to read half the pages forward, then the other half backwards. Oh, and rather cleverly it works as an illustrated flick-book too so you can, if you're impatient enough, get the basic concept of the story in about 10 seconds in total.

Understanding precisely what it all actually means is likely to take you considerably longer though, and much thumbing back and forth of individual pages, to grasp the narrative behind the structure of metaphors that Renée is simultaneously building and dismantling, and stretching and distorting for that matter. The left-hand pages show a being that has some sort of growth or mass inside its head, which is gradually escaping and winding its way around a bed. The right-hand pages are much more elaborate with strange blank buildings and junctions that seem interspersed with tiny forms and beset by swirling winds that change shape. Plus there's an interim sequence with some extremely odd creatures and cages that is genuinely disturbing. I'll be honest, knowing the migraines and ants background provides some insight into interpreting what Renée has drawn, but if I didn't know about the ants and the migraines, I'm not sure I'd really have a clue.