Aya and One Eye in Onion

“The AV Club Review - One Eye and Aya” / The AV Club / The AV Club / March 23, 2007

Apparently, cartoonist Charles Burns' predilection for juxtaposing the mundane and the bizarre extends to his photography. In One Eye (Drawn & Quarterly/Petits Livres), the Black Hole graphic novelist combines separate images into single pictures, sometimes accentuating the beauty of a nature scene, and sometimes making industrial landscapes, motel rooms and found objects look extra creepy. Aside from a one-paragraph intro at the start of the book, none of the disjointed visions herein are given any context. But then how much context does a shot of a pound cake fused to a shot of ground meat need? It's almost more disturbing without explanation… B+

The Marguerite Abouet-written, Clément Oubrerie-drawn Aya (Drawn & Quarterly) is the latest example of the burgeoning "growing up in exotic lands" genre, though Abouet lightly fictionalizes her girlhood on the Ivory Coast, working it into a multi-character, episodic story about teenagers in trouble during the waning days of an African nation's boom years. Abouet has lived in France since she was 12, and seems to have internalized the French method of comics storytelling, which emphasizes vivid moments over narrative payoff. Still, those moments are frequently poignant and—as drawn by Oubrerie—filled with the atmosphere of a hot, dusty country flush with excess cash… B

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