Somnambulance

Fiona Smyth. Koyama, $29.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-927668-54-2
This delightful career-spanning omnibus from Smyth (Sex is a Funny Word) collects work from indie comics and zines like Fabulous Babes, Twisted Sisters, and Nocturnal Emissions—the titles of which give an indication of the provocative nature of Smyth’s oeuvre. The stories are presented chronologically, from student work in 1985 to the present, providing a map of Smyth’s artistic trajectory. Her instantly recognizable maximalist style throbs with diverse patterns, thick brushy lines, and bold splashes of color. The short tales feature half-naked, half-human female libertines and anthropomorphic familiars, hungry for sexual joy and reveling in transgressive abandon. In “Toad in the Hole,” a metalhead dude is tasked with finding a magical breast in the surreal “land where wet dreams live,” leading to strange adventures, while in “Foxy,” images of hard-bitten female strippers are juxtaposed with a happy young woman making bland pronouncements about “when you wake up with smeared mascara.” Smyth draws from a feminist, spiritual perspective that posits a mystic sexual enlightenment awaiting those bold enough to reach for it. This generous collection offers new readers and her fans the case for her inclusion in the feminist art comics canon. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Release date: 05/29/2018
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