cover image Out of Hollow Water

Out of Hollow Water

Anna Bongiovanni. 2DCloud (, $10.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-937541-06-4

The three stories collected in this debut graphic novel are suffused with distorted symbols of womanhood—wombs, babies, intercourse—as well as hints of darker incidents. The interconnected stories deal with the consequences of a sexual violation in an unnamed forest world. In the middle story (the longest), a baby is born of an unknown but prohibited union. The mother’s young sister wants to leave the baby in their ancestral burial cave, but the midwife orders it abandoned in a well. The sister makes a personal sacrifice to allow a female ancestral spirit that comes from the cave to find the baby nonetheless. It’s left to the reader to judge whether the infant’s ultimate fate is justified. The first story in the collection is about a woman first reliving her violation by a monster; in the final story, she attempts to purge her bad memories. The overall mood of the collection is one of guilty dread, and the theme of the stories is the age-old connection of the phases of reproduction to a supernatural world. Bongiovanni uses a simple but very effective art style, and many of the illustrations are white on black with vast patches of gray swallowing up her doomed characters. It’s an unsettling and haunting debut. (Oct.)