Ish

Adam de Souza. Silver Sprocket, $14.99 trade paper (56p) ISBN 978-1-945509-88-9

De Souza’s fragmented but emotionally coherent comics debut delivers an unusually poignant collage of grief. Opening with a tender episode in which a girl sees her father devastated by the death of her mother in a car accident, the narrative jumps ahead to the protagonist as a young woman still numbed and lost from the tragedy. Undergoing a mysterious sensory deprivation therapy, she is flung into a cacophony of free association flickers. These flashes communicate on two tracks. First, they represent her attempt to bring order to her inner chaos (“this is the hardest part; that all things exist concurrently”). The second is a peeling back of the looping memory of her driving with her mother (which always ends “in twisted metal and searing heat”) and the mystery of trauma. De Souza’s character drawings are simple, but set in swirling and broken-open panel layouts that communicate the tale’s woozy connectivity. He embraces an overtly cubist style, scrambling and reframing narrative, and deconstructing the expectations of comics form. It’s an emotionally expansive rendering of a pained but doggedly optimistic quest for permanence “in the horrible and the beautiful.” (Apr.)