Trust Your Gut : Lauren Hinds’ “Jeremy”

There’s a dreamlike quality to Lauren Hinds’ new release from Paper Rocket Mini Comics, Jeremy, that’s so undeniable that I honestly spent most of my first read-through of the book thinking that the boy the title refers to was an imaginary friend of our unnamed protagonist, who we’ll just call The Kid ( with apologies to Prince). The Kid narrates/relates the entire saga of their friendship from his own first-person POV, and he and Jeremy get up to all kinds of secretive shit (mostly revolving around stealing plums, sneaking off into the forest, or sneaking off into the forest in order to steal plums), so hey — even though Jeremy is talked about by The Kid’s parents, and other adults, and even though he interacts with other school kids (often to his detriment), I really thought we were going to find, in the end, that he was just a figment of our erstwhile young hero’s imagination — I mean, screw logic, this is comics, right?

All of this is, of course, meant as a compliment to Hinds, a CCS grad who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, and not an insignificant compliment at that — childhood carries with it a certain “dreamy” atmosphere, and not just as and adult looking back on it through the hazy mists of time. To the developing consciousness, the hard-and-fast lines that eventually develop between the “real” world and the world of the imagination are unfinished, necessarily blurred, and thus small events are charged with a tremendous amount of import and significance. When everything is new, everything matters, and when events that matter are processed more emotively rather than they are purely intellectually, then guess what? Life can be a dream, sweetheart.

It’s fitting, then, that Hinds constructed this tale — presented entirely as illustrated single-panel/page faux-journal entries — in an entirely intuitive manner, drawing an image at a time in her sketchbook and trusting that whatever narrative was going to come of the process would extrapolate itself unscripted, au nautrel, as the work progressed. Going on gut instinct like this is, forgive me, a gutsy move, but it’s one that pays off handsomely, as this book well and truly does, when all is said and done (as well as while it’s going along, but I think we’ve already established that) make readers remember what it feels like to be a child and to see the world from an entirely non-jaded point of view. If you’re bored with cynicism, with resignation, even with garden-variety nonchalance, then here’s your antidote.

When the adult world encroaches in on The Kid’s narrative — which I’ll categorize on the fly as a kind of “contemporaneous reverie” — the full implications of its bullshit are, blissfully enough, only partially understood : he knows, for instance, that the grown-ups in his life aren’t terribly fond of his one and only friend, and that they warn him to keep a sharp eye on him and to not be led astray by him, but he just thinks that’s because Jeremy is originally from the city, and not because he has darker skin. Likewise, when Jeremy has a tough time fitting in at school, he just assumes that’s because he’s a newer kid, the idea that it might be down to the fact that he’s black never seems to cross his mind. Of course this is all hopelessly naive, but then — that’s the point. This naivete is, however, a two-edged sword, because while The Kid has seen a certain amount of evidence for himself that Jeremy may, indeed, be prone to getting the pair of them into trouble, he still can’t bring himself to believe that he’d ultimately have anything other than good intentions — and that makes sticking up for himself when his friend wants him to do something that he feels they really probably shouldn’t be doing something of a pretty tricky proposition.

A lot of this is communicated by means of the earnest journaling that Hinds constructs for her character, of course, but just as much information (okay, maybe that should be interpretation) comes by means of her colorful and emotionally honest art, plenty of which looks to this critic’s eye like it was drawn with markers — her lines are bold, intentionally imprecise, each illustration deliberately scaled to reflect a child’s “line of sight.” Shapes and textures are privileged over figures, atmosphere given pride of place over structural and physical integrity. My guess is that Hinds spent a lot of time on every one of these drawings, they’re simply too damn smartly-constructed to have been rushed, but to her great credit that doesn’t compromise their immediacy in the least. When things look easy even though they were anything but? That, friends, is when an artist is really firing on all creative cylinders.

Of course, barring the occasional rare exception, childhood friendships tend not to last forever, and quite often when they don’t it’s more a matter of them simply dissolving than it is of them breaking or, even worse, blowing up. The one shared between The Kid and Jeremy fits this pattern, and in the overall scheme of things its end may not even be such a bad thing — but this comic coming to and end surely is. Truth be told, I kinda wished it could just go on forever.

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Jeremy is available for $9.00 from the Paper Rocket storenvy site at https://thetinyreport.storenvy.com/products/31377907-jeremy

Review wrist check – Ocean Crawler “Paladino Wavemaker” green dial model riding an Ocean Crawler “Vintage Crazy Horse” brown leather strap.

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