Here’s a question that seems oddly absent from writer/artist Julie Delporte’s latest graphic novel, Everywhere Antennas: is it autobiographical? This query probably isn’t receiving much attention, because the reader isn’t traditionally trained to consider it (the school of biographical criticism is pretty uncool these days). Stylistically, this new book is extremely similar to Diary, Delporte’s previous offering published by Koyama. Both operate on small scales, rendered in colored pencils equal parts strong and delicate. Both take an episodic, iterative approach to their stories. The earlier book focuses on a bad break-up and was explicitly drawn from Delporte’s life. This new narrative features a somewhat-fragile young woman who believes she is sensitive to electricity and radio waves, in a sort of allergy to modern life as she tries to find settings where she can minimize or escape its influence.
Nowhere in Everywhere Antennas does it say “this is Julie Delporte’s story,” but the visual links between the two books strongly suggest that it is. Should it be, the weaknesses of the narrative are in some ways more forgivable, which also happens to be the point here. The Autobiography, especially as a diary, is shaggier and less structured than a narrative created about someone else. Made day by day, it shows themes and concerns, but less intentionally — more responsibility falls on the reader to create a plot than on the writer to make one. That friction can make diary comics irritating, repetitive, self-indulgent and not particularly intelligent. It often does.
Delporte doesn’t quite fall into that hole. For one thing, her drawings are gorgeous, and the way she literally assembles them (some sections were clearly created on different sheets of paper, then taped in) demands interest. Obviously, there are methods for fixing that kind of construction, but Delporte appears invested in preserving a sense of immediacy. Whether or not the story is taken from her own life, it’s a window into someone’s world, a world that hasn’t been edited to fit a preconceived storyline, making Everywhere Antennas a welcome escape.