cover image 20 KM/H

20 KM/H

Woshibai, trans. from the Mandarin by Megan Tan and Francine Yulo. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (376p) ISBN 978-1-77046-669-2

Drawn with clean, geometric lines and deadpan humor, Woshibai’s wordless gag comics surprise at every turn. A wagon is pulled by butterflies hopped up on nectar, a man makes audio recordings of rocks and flowers, a blindfolded woman searches for something safe to touch, and snowflakes morph into stars. Blank-faced human figures stripped down to the simplicity of public signage explore landscapes where size and perspective shift without warning and the natural and artificial overlap: an ATM dispenses autumn leaves, seashells are chiseled by a craftsman, and the same circle can be both the full moon and a coin in a vending machine. Beneath the visual playfulness and cryptic symbolism, the comics are permeated with melancholy, lighting more often than not upon isolated characters longing for connection. But Woshibai never lingers for more than a few curious pages. This off-kilter collection from one of the rising stars of Chinese alternative comics is perfect to leaf through and ponder on a quiet afternoon. (May)