Laid Waste, by Julia Gfrörer (2016) E

Reviewer: Emera
Date read: 6.14.2017
Book from: Gift from K. – THANK YOU!

So fucking dark and anguished. Julia Gfrörer’s Laid Waste is a desperate song about human love amid plague-stricken Europe – like a graphic novel cousin of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Grasping, bony fingers and limp corpses.

Gfrörer intercuts long passages of the deepest existential despair with wisps of dark humor – two children flatly discussing how best to avoid breathing in the smoke from a bonfire, for example – and with the fragile suggestion of divine grace. Better, though, than the questionable blessing of unlooked-for survival, is the desperate strength of human connection: “Everything outside of this is darkness.” “Yes.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so deeply, with both mind and body, the vast loneliness and despair of one of history’s darkest periods – and humanity’s baffling, tragicomically stubborn resilience in the face of unrelenting loss.

Like her storytelling, Gfrörer’s art feels both delicate and terrifyingly honest. It establishes a territory somewhere between Dürer and Egon Schiele. Meticulous hatching contrasts with wavering, slightly uncomfortably organic shapes. That wavering quality creates a strange sense of movement even when she’s working through one of a series of mostly stationary panels, which compel us to wait and watch and feel with her characters. With most other artists, the inconsistency of shape and anatomy would register as a technical shortcoming; with Gfrörer, it’s another means of expression.

I feel very, very lucky to have been introduced to Gfrörer’s work through a generous gift from friend K.; I plan to write about the two other comics he gifted me, Black is the Color and Flesh and Bone, over the next few weeks, and hope to buy the rest of her comics soon.

Go to:
FLOOD Magazine: Sex, death and suffering – a conversation with Julia Gfrörer, author of Laid Waste

7 thoughts on “Laid Waste, by Julia Gfrörer (2016) E”

  1. Okay, this is completely irrelevant to this entry, but I can’t make suggestions any other way, since I don’t have access to your facebook page or e-mail. How about something on Philip K. Dick? I’ve taken four of his novels out of the library, and I think he is the cat’s pajamas. I’m struck by how different “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is from Blade Runner.

    1. Kakaner had a huge Philip K. Dick run a few years ago; I’ve only read Ubik (on her recommendation) and Androids, but I loved Androids (in, yes, a quite different way from how I love Blade Runner), and always wanted to read it again. The desolate scene with Deckard finding what he thinks is a real toad in the desert always stuck with me.

  2. bleak are the times between
    they makes allies of what remains

    we who survive
    know the door
    even though it does not open for us

    we have every key
    but that
    so we make do with windows and wishes

    and if death not takes us
    sex is another absolute
    if the fountain ever be discovered

    magic mandates us with want
    i go willingly

  3. This is chilling I can barely look at the sample pages without shuddering. What a great artistic find thanks to Kim!

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