Saturday, July 16, 2016
Anna Archie Bongiovanni has cartooned for Everyday Feminism at the same time that I have, so I got the opportunity to chat with them a couple of times. They gave me some great advice for how to handle minicomics and how to put my work out there so that the people who I wanted to see it would see it. Part of the reason that this advice was so special to me was because I'd seen samples of their wonderful book, Out of Hollow Water, and I realized what a wonderful artist and creator they are. I recently had some Barnes & Noble gift cards to spend and was delighted to find that Out of Hollow Water was available through the book behemoth.
The book is. Um. Really intense. Really, really intense. Like I feel the need to give pretty strong trigger warnings.
It's a beautiful, small book. Only about 100 pages and with the rough dimensions of a CD it sits easily in your hands as it digs into your heart. It tells either three distinct story or one contorted story, and the simplicity of the narration is such that it's up to the reader to decide how the story is structured.
The art is staggering. Instead of the hard lines and flat colors Bongiovanni uses for their online comics Out of Hollow Water is full of soft graphite layers that show missteps and sketch lines through the bold strokes that reach out to the reader. It feels incredibly intimate and organic, unpolished but not unfinished. It honestly is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I've ever encountered.
The story is difficult. When I first sat down to read it I ended up going through the book three times end-to-end letting it wash over me and percolate in my mind. It's jarring and scary and sad. It hurts to read; it makes you worry for the characters, the author, yourself.
I loved it but it's hard to recommend. I'd say it's for people who need to heal but maybe it's more for people who know that healing isn't easy or pretty, it's messy and sordid. There's no right way to heal but there are many wrong ways and that's part of what this amazing little book explores.
Bongiovanni, Anna Archie. Out of Hollow Water. 2Cloud Publishing. Minneapolis: Minnesota. 2013.