Nina Bunjevac. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (248p) ISBN 978-1-68396-209-0
This unsettling, horrific erotic fantasy begins with a hypnotic series of stories within stories: an unseen narrator tells the tale of Bezimena the Old, a wise woman in a mythic Grecian setting, who in turn sets into motion the story of Benny, an awkward, disturbed young man living in the early 20th century. While working as a janitor at a zoo, Benny develops an obsession with a former classmate, stalks her, then finds a sketchbook filled with evidence that she returns his interest. This leads to dreamlike sexual encounters and strange visions, before the shock of an unreliable narrator revelation. Bunjevac wrote and drew the volume to process sexual trauma she experienced as a girl in Serbia; in the afterword, she dedicates the book to “all forgotten and nameless victims of sexual violence.” But this extended visit to the inner fantasy world of a disturbed mind may be too acutely real for many readers to take (and the surprise twist is a bit pat). The work, however, is stunning to look at, with elegant full-page illustrations, painstakingly crosshatched and stippled to resemble woodcuts or antique photographs. Eerie, symbolic images fill each page: owls, snakes, eyes, the moon. Even if it falls short of its ambitions, Bunjevac’s forceful, uncomfortable vision will linger with readers. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/15/2019
Release date: 05/07/2019
Genre: Comics
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