270°

Maggie Umber. 2dcloud, $13.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-937541-46-0
Owl-obsessive Umber’s slim collection is a handspun collage of prints, pen-and-ink sketches, and thickly textured paintings that serve as an ode to the mysterious species. The bird portraits are striking and graceful—on one page, the face of an expressive, intelligent owl is juxtaposed with abstract earth-tone strokes that evoke both mottled tree bark and detailed feathers. The book draws its title from some owls’ ability to swivel their heads 270 degrees; hand-written owl facts dot many pages. “Most people think of owls as solitary creatures of the night but the variety of behaviors across the species contradicts this notion” appears neighboring a finely drawn creature, wings spread wide, flying alone across a purple and green background. In Umber’s prior graphic novel, The Sound of Snow Falling, she turned a mountain of personal research as an amateur naturalist into a gorgeous narrative of two owls’ lives. In this follow-up, the devotion remains but without the storytelling. Depending on the page, this compendium reads like poetic Wikipedia fragments or disjointed snippets of a high school biology report. Yet, it’s a lovely object—the book soars when it lets the exquisite visuals fly solo. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
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