Parallel Lives

Olivier Schrauwen. Fantagraphics, $19.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-68396-140-6
Schrauwen (Arsène Schrauwen) returns with another heady and inventive collection of six tales featuring sci-fi and magical realism tropes, all featuring Schrauwen or one of his relatives at different points in time (mostly in the far-flung future). From a relatively simple black-and-white alien abduction tale, “Greys,” the volume builds in both narrative and visual complexity to the final, full-color, novella-length “Space Bodies.” The second tale, “Hello,” features one of the book’s recurring themes: the use of technology in an attempt to record grave warnings and enlighten subsequent generations—only to be met with complete indifference by denizens of the future (“I guess the future has no time for the past”). In the formalistic tour de force “Cartoonify,” the lead uses the titular app that allows its user to “experience life as a cartoon character in an animated world.” This allows for all manner of cartooning hijinks. “Mister Yellow,” set in the present day and told in two pages of tiny panels (recalling Chris Ware), again offers enigmatic warnings that go mostly unheeded. Throughout, Schrauwen explores and deconstructs the subjective nature of reality. This sophisticated, inventive story cycle never fails to entertain, and strikes plenty of cerebral sparks. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018
Release date: 11/20/2018
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