cover image Familiar Face

Familiar Face

Michael DeForge. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-77046-387-5

This allegorical tale from DeForge (Leaving Richard’s Valley) follows a woman who spends her days reading the minor and major complaints of the public, offering a searing, surrealist critique of the culture of technological customization, and an ode to love in the face of overwhelming power. The reality of the unnamed heroine, from the architecture of her city to her own body, is subject to constant “optimization.” (“Maps would rearrange themselves with every update. The street you were driving on would fold in on itself without any warning.”) Her body becomes more and more abstracted as the panels progress. An automated system fields citizen complaints about all of this, and the protagonist is tasked with reading them, but she “never was told when or if a complaint was resolved.” Then her girlfriend Jessica disappears, forcing her to question the very nature of her ever-shifting world. DeForge’s loopy artistic talents are on full display: roads spiral dizzyingly; bodies mesh in tangled heaps of bright, flat color; and subways rush along on fleshy, veined tracks. It’s profoundly disorienting, yet skirts the edge of cuteness. The climax, involving a radical group of cartographers and a massive social protest, however, feels pat and stands out against DeForge’s otherwise staunch refusal of sentimentality. This is a kaleidoscopic vision of the strength of human connection, another artful and clever volume for DeForge’s many indie comics fans. (Mar.)