cover image Bizarre Romance

Bizarre Romance

Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (168p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2853-2

A magical-realist kaleidoscope, this volume of romance comics and prose stories, from husband-and-wife team Campbell and Niffenegger veers wildly between whimsy, horror, and the utterly banal. A girl becomes queen of a fantasy realm, only to lose it all in an instant. A man’s attic becomes infested with angels. Fairies levitate ocelots. At its strongest, the book has much to say about the beauty and devastation of seeking companionship in any given human life—the grace and alienation of photography, for example, is memorably captured in a portrait of a 19th-century model’s morning, as she reminisces about a lover while waiting between poses. At its weakest, it relies too much upon cleverness rather than content. Fairies encountered at a bar is charming on its own, and their subsequent manipulation of a patron has potential—but Campbell and Niffenegger end what might have been an intriguing exploration of codependency before it has a chance to go anywhere. Still, taken as a whole, their collaboration is winningly strange, especially in its use of collage; Campbell smashes photography, purposefully sloppy abstraction, and even characters like Popeye and Nancy together to unique off-kilter effect. Love is a many-splendored thing within these pages—but it is also mightily odd. [em](Mar.) [/em]