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posted December 29, 2006
Conundrum Press, softcover trade, 180 pages, October 2006, $17
My favorite piece in Gilded Lilies
, Jillian Tamaki's first book, come almost half-way through: it's a picture of various children and teenagers, followed by a silhouette, followed by numbered descriptions of each person represented. "Kelly Flaherty sucked her three middle fingers well into Elementary School," starts one. "They were always dry and a bit withered from the abuse. Eventually her parents convinced her to give up the habit by bribing her with a bright yellow Walkman." And from there they get more specific, funnier, and stranger. It's like she made that little section just for me.
There's a ton more, too. Tamaki proves to be a very interesting artist in terms of human figures that are squat, faces that press their cases forward, and tableaux that sweep and bend and accomodate force. Her more formal comics pages scattered throughout the first half of the book are funny and casual; her framing is near-impeccable, subtle shifts of placement and viewpoint that keep the energy of each piece up in a visual sense. A long comic at the end, "The Tapemines," is a single-image-per-page piece that features skilled placement of grays and blacks. The disorientation expressed by the art matches that of lost girls at the story's heart. One of the nicer effects managed by Tamaki becomes the nebulous nature of story actors, whether they mean to hurt or help, and even the exact nature of the girls' predicament.