Oh, hell yes.
The first volume of Lale Westvind’s Grip was one of the standout releases of 2018, a rapturous visual feast that paid tribute to working women everywhere — particularly women working in the trades — but with our nameless protagonist having triumphed against external foes, in the recently-released Grip Vol. 2 she turns her whirlwind “super-hands” to the task of transcendence through construction. And, as you’d no doubt expect, it’s a very formidable task indeed.
Once again, Perfectly Acceptable Press knocks it out of the park with their artisan riso printing, federal blue, fluorescent red, and yellow gradations exploding off the page with the same guts and gusto as every panel in Westvind’s wordless 88-page story, which functions as both sequel and necessary counter-balance to the fist “chapter,” antagonists that demanded a firm physical and theoretical beat-down now giving way to the probably more challenging, but if anything even more necessary, act of creation.
However, while there’s no achievement without struggle, Westvind’s story wisely and bravely celebrates both in equal measure — her heroine has earned her place among the immortal pantheon of working women, but she’s got to prove she’s earned it by finding a way to take her place up, literally, in the clouds. She must imagine, construct, and pilot a vehicle that will take her to where she both needs and deserves to go. Nothing is given, sure, but it goes well beyond that — nothing is easy, even with a pair of hands that can do pretty well anything.
Leaving quaint terms such as “dynamic” and “bold” in the rear view mirror hundreds of miles back, Westvind’s cartooning is a crackling, hyper-kinetic synthesis of motion, imagination, homage, and philosophical intent that takes justifiable pride in its own finely-honed execution, the artist herself clearly in love with the process of translating ideas into imagery through sheer, sweaty labor. She draws with force, and readers can’t fail to pick up on that, her own efforts reflected in those of her central character and vice-versa — to a very real degree, then, this is a comic that draws clear and celebratory parallels between its own creation, the story it’s telling, and the inspirational figures that gave impetus to it. We’re operating on at least three levels at once here, then, and readers more astute than myself may even — nah, you know what? I’m going to take a page from Westvind’s playbook and show unmitigated confidence in my own efforts to analyze and parse this work, because that’s the sort of thing I’m actually pretty damn good at, and I’m proud of that.
And pride is at the beating, endlessly-pumping heart of the entire Grip project, both sides of its coin now plainly coalescing into a holistic statement of purpose, reflecting and supplementing and melding into one another seamlessly, creating a joyous work that epitomizes the very triumph it relates, a paean to entirely earned confidence gained via trial by fire (or wind), a veritable tornado of rapturously feminist visual storytelling the likes of which I daresay we haven’t seen before — and that will hopefully inspire others to tells us their stories by means of their unique voices and skill sets . Westvind — and her extraordinary, instantly-legendary heroine — wouldn’t have it any other way.
Grip Vol. 2 is available for $35.00 from Perfectly Acceptable press at http://perfectly-acceptable.com/item/grip-2/
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