cover image Eartha


Cathy Malkasian. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60699-991-2

Allegories are thick as fog in this gloriously imagined if opaque fantastical fable from Malkasian (Percy Gloom). Drawn in soft, shaded colored pencil and emphasizing broad vistas and serene scenery, Malkasian imagines two worlds, one of innocence inviolate and the other corrupted by politics. The first, Echo Fjord, is a farm community where unfinished dreams from the faraway City Across the Sea arrive as visitors who briefly take physical form. When refugee dreams stop showing up, farmer’s daughter Eartha journeys to the City to find out what’s happening. Once arrived, she gets involved in a roundabout way—Malkasian isn’t big on strict cause and effect—with a conspiratorial story about Primus, the city’s quasidictatorial leader. The kindly, innocent Eartha becomes his unintentional nemesis. Malkasian lets her book unspool at an unhurried pace, allowing the past-midnight dreamscape imagery of talking animals and massive, Earth-abutting moons wash over the story. The slightly sinister backdrop and fairy tale satire takes aim at a modern world without much room for the dreams Eartha misses so. (Apr.)