Rikke Villadsen. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (166p) ISBN 978-1-68396-279-3
Villadsen deconstructs the oft-deconstructed western genre—along with gender, narrative, and the comics form—in this feverish stew of pulp tropes and postmodern games. In a Wild West town populated by stock characters—helpfully labeled The Sheriff, The Coward, The Smoker, etc.—a familiar story of gunslingers facing off at high noon is repeatedly disrupted with sex, scatology, surrealist digressions, and unusual eroticism. The closest thing to a coherent plot follows The Window, one of the interchangeable women whose role is to peer fearfully out of windows at the men in the street, as she grows dissatisfied and plans an escape. She grabs the artist’s pen, draws a mustache and testicles on herself, and dresses as a cowboy and attempts to ride off into the sunset. In other vignettes, a wanted poster talks back to an outlaw, and a lady of the evening floats out of her brothel like a balloon. The loose, blue-tinted watercolor art has a deliberately unfinished look, adding to the sense of a fictional world disintegrating into chaos. If the book saunters lackadaisically toward its final pages rather than building to a satisfying conclusion, maybe that’s appropriate, as it’s more of a a formal experiment than a complete story. Wandering until she runs out of ideas, Villadsen takes readers on one bizarre ride. (Mar.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misidentified the author as a male.

Reviewed on : 11/27/2019
Release date: 02/18/2020
Genre: Comics
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