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The Bun Field
posted May 20, 2009


Creator: Amanda Vahamaki
Publishing Information: Drawn and Quarterly, softcover, 96 pages, March 2009, $12.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781897299388 (ISBN13)

This is less a proper review than a reminder that the English-language version of Amanda Vahamaki's Campo Di Baba published by Drawn & Quarterly is out there right now. There's so much material published in a variety of forms these days that it's easy to miss out on an effort like this one. It's a lovely little book. I reviewed it in a previous format here; Bart Beaty took his shot here.

Vahamaki accomplishes several admirable things here above and beyond the atmosphere she creates with her smudged-pencil art and understated script. The pacing, dependent on a six-panel grid, is relentless. Some of the best moments in the story are simply silent transitions between places, shifts in perspective made odd and wonderful by the rhythms she achieves. There are several subtle moments of physical characterization on display that ground individual scenes and keep the dream-like qualities displayed from dragging the entire enterprise onto the more comfortable grounds of fantasy. Best of all, Vahamaki knows the big, general nightmares of being a kid and has them down cold: the intrusive adult, the scary machine, the impossible task, the guilt of someone being punished on your behalf. If it were a film, I'd watch it multiple times straight through, focusing on individual elements of the atmosphere the cartoonist creates, the mechanics by which it exposes the lead character's vulnerabilities and helplessness.