Lilli Carre is one of my favorite comics artists, and I become terribly excited every time she releases new work. (Her piece was the best part about The Best American Comics 2008
, and she has a wonderful story in the spring issue of MOME
.) Nine Ways to Disappear
tells nine short tales of people and things who fade away, whether it's because of loneliness, death or bizarre circumstances. Carre inserts a bit of magic into her storytelling, and anything can happen to her characters: In one story, a man transforms into a pearl. In another, a storm drain speaks. In another, a couple's love becomes so intense that it literally produces fruit. I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not wanting to go out and buy a copy for someone else. --Whitney Matheson, Pop Candy - USA Today
No comics creator since Steve Ditko has had as direct access to their subconscious as Lilli Carré, and perhaps none ever (not Ben Katchor, not Jim Woodring) has been better at navigating its meanings and following its logic on its own terms. Nine Ways to Disappear
is an enthralling book of strange vignettes from people's inner lives, one panel per small page in homespun antique-pattern picture frames. Carré is a chronicler of the unnoticed, and as per the title these are nine portraits of people and events that drift out of sight.
It opens with Dorado Park, in which two sisters literally grow apart as one of them finds a mate and causes a surreal wilderness to fill up their house and crowd the other sister out. In Sleepwalker a passive man who can only be acted upon has no frame of reference for his transient relationships and chronic rootlessness, symbolized with bizarre sleepwalking episodes and a float across the ocean that brings him to a T.S. Eliot moment of full-circle homecoming, without the revelation.
In The Neighbor a little girl visits an ailing elderly fellow apartment tenant who progressively shrinks smaller than she is, signifying the disappearance of past generations over the horizon behind headlong youth. In What Am I Going to Do? and The Sun, characters literally collapse under the weight of their anxieties, in the best, gruesome cubist slapstick this side of Alixopulos
. Wide Eyes offers a hallucinatory, grotesque device for showing a guy who serially feels he's getting lost in another's love and tries to be invisible to her, in a tragic/farcical alternating current of attraction and isolation that depends on the wideness of his view and what it's willing to take in.
There are two bittersweet vignettes about the relics of existence that flow down a storm drain, and in Carré's latest masterpiece, The Pearl, a precious artifact passes through many weird adventures and unknowing hands in an absurd drama about the unseen ghosts of past experience hovering around the ephemera that moves across our lives and means things we don't much try to notice.
Carré's boneless, Demoiselles d Avignon
-faced characters express a remarkable, expanding range of both vaudeville exaggeration and genuine emotional layers, and there's a new palette of settings and textures, from Freudianly dingy clubs in Wide Eyes to, in The Pearl, a few worlds-full of fantastic silent-movie locales and trance-vision human transformations. Nine Ways to Disappear
shows an important, endearing talent making an unerasable mark. --Adam McGovern, ComicCritique.Com
...Carre's thick-lined, curvy style and unusual vision has a strong appeal, especially in stories like If I Were A Fish, where Carre adopts the voice of a storm drain that dreams of the objects that slip through its grate. --The Onion A.V. Club