I love a good challenge, but few things have taxed my feeble mind more in recent weeks than figuring out just how the hell I was going to approach this review. The work of Isabel Reidy (or, if you prefer, Izzy True) is always breathtakingly and wondrously open to interpretation, it’s true, but their self-published mini from a few years back, True Friendship Now, is probably the most ambiguous of the bunch : a rumination of sorts on exactly what its title implies, certainly, but also on identity and its boundaries and on absorption, even cross-contamination, of people (or, as is customary with Reidy, creatures), ideas, emotions, realities.
If it sounds like a lot to mull over, rest assured that it is, but that doesn’t mean the book itself is a rough slog by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a brisk enough read on the surface, as a matter of fact — but the surface is, as always with this cartoonist, just the beginning.
Both written and drawn in a code that isn’t so much deciphered as it is intuited through, it’s fair to say we have a single protagonist here, and that they’re having a singular enough experience, but there’s someone/thing else on the other end of that phone line (one could advance an argument that this is at the very least a thematic, and maybe even a direct, “sequel” of sorts to Reidy’s first mini, 1-800-Kravlox) playing their part, causing a phantasmagoria of reactions, of contortions, of transformations. That’s the assumption, at any rate.
Speaking of — the assumption of new forms, new feelings, news ways of looking at oneself and one’s environment are a key factors here, but what that means is up to you, and the proportion to which one affects another is likewise a matter of personal perspective. I dig art that makes me question both itself and my reactions to it not just after experiencing it but during, yet even a veteran of the post-avant garde like myself needed to slow the fuck down and examine both how and why I was processing this in the manner I was — in addition to just what it was that I was processing — on every. Single. Page. Here.
Shit, there’s another clumsy segue, this one piggy-backing on the word “processing,” that I could indulge in at this point, but I won’t — some things are better seen for yourself, and this would be one of them, depending on how loose your definition of the term “better” is. Take that as literally as your heart desires, and stop by and thank me later for not “spoiling” anything for you. Or don’t. I know longer know — and maybe I never did. This book makes me think a lot, not least about why I’m even thinking in the first place.
Reidy/True appears to be dividing their time between the visual and musical (see above) arts these days, and it’s easy to see why — one medium alone simply isn’t enough to contain the conceptual density of some folks’ ideas, and for those blessed with that much sheer creativity, it’s often a process of finding which particular mode of expression best suits whatever themes they’re attempting to communicate. I hope to see more of their comics in the not-too-distant future — but it’s a safe bet that I’ll still be analyzing, re-analyzing, maybe even de-analyzing True Friendship Now not only until this still-theoretical new project emerges, but well after, to boot.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you probably already know exactly where to find this comic, but if not, it’s Domino Books, where it sells for six bucks. Here’s a link :http://dominobooks.org/truefriend.html
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