Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 29, 2013



Creator: Geneviève Castrée
Publishing Information: Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 80 pages, February 2013, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781770460881 (ISBN13)

imageI think the primary virtue of this dense, at-times fascinating work that slipped out from Drawn And Quarterly mid-winter comes from the fact that its author tells the story of her dysfunctional parents without processing what they did through her own neuroses. For those used to reading "Here's how my parents are messed up, and here's what that's done to me," it may seem at first like we're only getting half of the story here. Approximately two-thirds of the way through the volume, at a point past the reader stops bracing for a lengthy and self-involved confessional that will never arrive, Susceptible makes a strong case that we maybe shouldn't automatically process the shortcomings of others as fuel for our own bad choices and hang-ups.

Susceptible is also a compellingly-drawn work, with tiny figures captured either against the backdrop of the white page itself or floating in an area accompanied on all sides by a deft contextualization of the characters' immediate surroundings. Placing the figures in relation to the author's depiction of herself forces our attention on how these events break across her mind and heart without the cartoonist ever having to to say so. Those scenes put on overt, physical display how these events both happened to the author, yet also took place far from her inner core. Susceptible feels plainspoken in a way that runs counter to the flourishes of the art and the book's hand-lettering, with Castrée employing a voice that says "look at this" over and over again, page to page, scene to scene, without ever demanding we interpret what we see to her advantage. I loved its quiet insistence.

posted 5:27 pm PST | Permalink

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