Densely atmospheric, detailed yet scratchy, erotically charged, Gothic in the truest sense of the word, and falling along a stylistic continuum somewhere between Edgar Allen Poe and Dame Darcy, cartoonist Julia Gfrorer (perhaps best known for her Fantagraphics-published Laid Waste and Black Is The Color) is a true autuer, someone whose vision, and well as its means of expression, are entirely and uniquely her own — even, perhaps paradoxically, when she’s not working alone, as is the case with her occasional collaborations with writer Sean T. Collins. For purposes of this week’s Round-Up, though, we’ll be concentrating on some examples of her solo work, specifically four extraordinary minis she self-published under her Thuban Press imprint —
I can sum up To Dark To See best, I think, with the words “haunting as fuck” because, whaddya know, it’s about fucking and haunting. And mistrust. And psychologically abusive relationships. And the distance that grows between people who used to, and by all rights should still, be intimate. And maybe, in a pinch, it’s even about STDs. What it’s not is forgettable. This ‘zine, in fact, will cling to you like a damn ghost.
Ditto for the poetically anthropological Dark Age, an exploration of youthful sexual awakening, trust and its absence, getting in too deep in every sense, and the early origins of ritual and magick. As “dark” as its title states, there’s nevertheless a wicked sense of humor undercutting this work, as when every line spoken by our protagonists upon entering a cavernous tunnel is quite literally a double-entendre. Another one that burrows its way into your consciousness and absolutely refuses to let go.
Subtitled “A Frasier ‘Zine,” the whimsical Good Night Seattle places TV’s Dr. Crane, his brother Niles, their dad, housekeeper Daphne, and tough-but-with-a-heart-of-gold producer Roz in precisely the last place any of them have the skills to navigate their way through : a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Short, punchy, on-target absurdist humor with some cringe-worthy moments that will make you feel appropriately guilty for chuckling along with them, like the show it’s extrapolated from, this one will live on in re-runs — or, as the case may be, re-reads.
Finally, Gfrorer’s most recent mini, Vision, is part one of a two-chapter story, detailing the harrowing daily realities of a hapless young Victorian woman, constantly put upon by a haranguing and needy sister-in-law, who finds sexual and emotional solace in a — haunted mirror? You read that right. All is probably not well with that relationship, either, but I guess we’ll see. If you’re down for a “sex comic” like no other — and, really, who isn’t? — congratulations, this is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Needless to say, if you haven’t had the pleasure already, you absolutely need to check out Gfrorer’s work : it will transport you to places of awe, wonder, beauty, and terror. She balances everything on a delicate razor’s edge between the familiar and the far less than, and her art is an entirely new definition of the word “exquisite” that simply has to be seen, more importantly to be experienced, to believe. Give her wares a look over at her Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/thorazos
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