Garlandia

Lorenzo Mattotti and Jerry Kramsky, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-68396-097-3
This winding, dreamlike fantasy takes place in pastoral Garlandia, where the bristle-faced Gars live quiet lives constrained by tradition and shamanic ceremony. Hippolytes, the feckless son of the shaman (his age is unclear, as Gars look alike except that the females have breasts), crosses into forbidden territory and accidentally upsets the balance of nature and is dispatched on a self-consciously Homeric quest to put things right. In his absence, a crustacean despot draws the Gars into his power, forcing Hippolytes’s family to flee and set out on their own parallel voyage. The loose, stream-of-consciousness narrative exists to showcase Mattotti’s flowing, delicate black-and-white art and the endlessly imaginative settings. He creates a world of shifting landscapes, talking mountains, vast oceans, and creatures like Rain Monkeys and the Bird of Fate. The dedication page mentions Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, and Garlandia feels like an attempt to create an adult version of the wise, whimsical classic children’s series, with its eccentric creatures and droll observations on life. If the characters, more archetypes than individuals, don’t quite come into focus, their world is developed with clarity, originality, and a touch of poetry. Packaged in a large-format hardcover, this elegant publication should appeal to European and art comics fans. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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