cover image Team Photograph

Team Photograph

Lauren Haldeman. Sarabande, $21.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-956046-00-7

Poet Haldeman (Instead of Dying) blends verse, history, and memoir in this hypnotic meditation on the legacy of violence. Growing up in Fairfax Station, Va., Haldeman played soccer on the sites of Civil War battlefields, “a mess of woods and worlds” layered with memories of death, and was visited by ghosts in her childhood home. As an adult, she returns to delve into the history of the area and uncovers a complex landscape of war and slavery, with her take on the violence of the past sharpened by her grief over the 2012 murder of her brother. Haldeman’s journey back and forth through time is depicted though comics in which the characters appear as anthropomorphic wolves (in honor of the animal her brother loved), but also interstitial sequences of poetry. Though she draws a connection between sports and warfare, it’s ultimately the latter that carries the story, with soccer field boredom providing an entry point for ruminations on battles both literal and metaphorical. Haldeman’s drawings are blocky, but her scenes are elegantly composed, playing with layouts and perspectives. This haunted and haunting work will linger in the minds of readers. (Nov.)