Self-doubt is a crippling thing, but never has it been delineated in a manner as sensitive, as smart, as intuitive as in the pages of Angela Fanche’s latest mini-comic, Everly. This is work that comes from a deep wellspring of very personal experience, but the damn thing is : Fanche is such a singularly talented cartoonist, one so fundamentally in tune with her abilities and intentions, that she needn’t second-guess herself for so much as an instant.
Despite having a fairly robust internet presence, most of which consists of her occasionally-issued diary comics, Fanche isn’t someone I know a tremendous amount about, but a comic like this tells you as much as you need : her delicate texturing and shading, combined with deft figure work, definitely gives her art an ethereal, even wistful quality to it, but employed in service of painfully introspective subject matter such as this, well — to paraphrase Dan Clowes, who was paraphrasing any number of others himself when he invoked the term, this really is a velvet glove over an iron fist, and communicates more about the internal workings of Fanche’s creative process than this brief bio from her own website ever could :
And so it should be — like Ditko (is the dotted text that appears before her stand-in protagonist here a nod in the late master’s direction?), she lets her work speak for itself, communicating a rich, if troubled, interior landscape that we are offered a privileged glimpse of her working her way through. It’s stunning in its earnestness, its loose precision (trust me, that only sounds like a contradiction), its use of space, its sheer fluidity — but what really makes this a standout work is its heart.
Is that too sappy? Too sentimental? Too frank? I don’t care, it’s the truth — Everly is an inherently sympathetic look at a person’s own struggles that completely eschews woe-is-me-ism and achieves resonance with readers by dint of its incomparably honest execution. It’s absorbed through the eyes directly into the heart and there’s not a false, or even forced, note to be found. Comics art — hell, art in general — can aspire to nothing greater, in my view, than that.
I realize I’m gushing, perhaps even to the point of embarrassing myself, at this point — but again, I could honestly care less. This is a comic worth not just crowing about, but actively championing. Fanche bares so much of her mind, heart, soul here — and does so entirely without prompting, her overall tone falling somewhere between that of a necessary exorcism of inner demons and a gift to readers of all that is true, irreducible, and authentic about herself. That’s harrowing and remarkable and gutsy and admirable in equal measure. It’s also utterly and inarguably unique, in the most accurate and clinical definition of that term. Fanche clearly isn’t out to blow you away with this work — it’s too organic in form and content for that — but she definitely knows how to knock you right the fuck out with the gentle force of a feather.
You can safely drop whatever it is you may be doing right now and order Everly for $5 from our good friends at Domino Books. It comes with this critic’s highest possible recommendation, so get to it via this link :http://dominobooks.org/everly.html