Oversized, spiral-bound, and presented in a seismic flood of lavish riso-printed colors on exceptionally sturdy paper stock, Daria Tessler’s latest offering via artisan publisher Perfectly Acceptable Press, Loop Of The Sun, is a thing of beauty in the purely physical sense, it’s true — but as a self-contained sequential (though not strictly “comics” per se) story that nevertheless fits comfortably within its creator’s larger ouevre, it stands out for both its thematic depth and transcendent visual auteurship. In other words, it may carry a $45 price tag, but there’s no doubt it’s worth every penny of that, and then some.
Tessler’s art has always existed at a self-created intersection between archaeology and alchemy, piecing together folkloric texts and historical artifacts in order to conjure something unique from disparate elements — and in this case, the subject being a creation myth from ancient Egypt proves to be an inspired choice for the most ambitious and assured entry in the cartoonist’s “canon” to date. Visually translating the birth of —well, everything, really — to the page is always a gargantuan task, of course, but at this point Tessler’s intuition is so sound that no matter how tightly-planned the visual and literary story structure, the end result still feels very much like a vision channeled from a cosmic source beyond the reach of most of us mere mortals.
And I use the word “mere” with precision, I assure you, because Tessler’s double-page spreads — incorporating elements of collage, pen-and-ink (and maybe even graphite under there somewhere for all I know) illustration, and painting to create a truly phantasmagoric experience that goes well beyond the “psychedelic” and the “surreal” — make a reader feel small and insignificant and awestruck and back-handed by the power of some greater universal force in a way that no artist working in this medium (however one defines it) since Kirby has. Who, no coincidence, was one of the earliest cartoonists to express the cosmic by means of collage and to express the allegorical by means of the mythic.
That’s about where the comparison functionally ends, though, as Tessler opts for fluidity and self-referential looping, as the title to this work suggests — time, consequently, “moving” differently in a book such as this one than it does in any other, and ideas like “beginnings” and “endings” being left in the dust even in a story explicitly about the beginning of all things. How this works is something of a mystery to me, even after having spent hours pouring over the contents of this book — but work it does, and undeniably at that.
Also worthy of consideration is the fact that even though Tessler draws inspiration from decidedly external sources, the impetus to visually articulate them in such a singular manner can and must only come from within. There are perhaps any number of ways to interpret a story this old, but it’s a safer than safe bet that no one else would come up with anything like this, a virtuoso multi-media tour de force that whole-heartedly embraces the challenge of giving birth to the universe before our eyes and makes it seem an even more all-encompassing and frankly majestic act than it already is by definition.
This is one of those rare comics projects — or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a “comics-adjacent” project — that raises its game with every turn of the page, that “one-ups” itself not by force but as a matter of course. It might be over-stating things — not to mention socially awkward — to bow to the person who created it, but if Daria Tessler wanted to take one? That would be entirely appropriate and richly deserved.
Loop Of The Sun is available for $45.00 from Perfectly Acceptable Press at http://perfectly-acceptable.com/item/loop-of-the-sun/
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