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Little Lessons In Safety
posted June 28, 2007


Creator: Emily Holton
Publishing Information: Conundrum Press, soft cover, 160 pages, May 2007, $17
Ordering Numbers: 1894994221 (ISBN10), 9781894994224 (ISBN13)

imageA restless intelligence inhabits Emily Holton's work, now collected in Conundrum's Little Lessons in Safety. She passes back and forth between visual art forms, dissecting their presentational styles and then regurgitating them via some form of deadpan absurdity. About 80 percent of what's being done here is easily recognizable as comics, while 95 percent could inform comics work and a full 100 percent is worth looking at if you take Eddie Campbell's advice and decline to get work up about definitional constraints.

A pair of longer stories after the book's halfway point reach for a profundity that I don't think they achieve. In fact, the more visually bravura the short, the less I felt connected to it. I prefer the artist's work as simply presented as possible, as with the Karl Lagerfeld comics reprinted here, which kiss the reader on the lips and leave a tingle that I think comes from that tiny bit of focused intensity in the faces that stand out against the more suggestive feel of the figure drawing. Many of the shorts like the book's kick-off "Birdhead" manage a kind of casual intelligence that is the real strength of working from this kind of loose, sketchbook style. Nothing here screams major new talent, but I think most who see the book will be interested in the artist's next work. Hopefullly, that's less formal experimentation on the page and more of the direct quality present in her best shorts.