Julie Delporte’s Antennas Everywhere is structured as a series of journal entries written by a young Quebecer who has an unexplained sensitivity to the radiation given off by televisions, cellphones and computers.
The urban landscape she inhabits is killing her.
Early in the book, the unnamed narrator has a breakthrough moment when she discovers she is not the only one with this strange affliction.
“Listening to podcasts at work, I heard a report. It turns out some people are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. Power lines, phones, the internet,” she writes. “On my way home, I look up. I see antennas everywhere.”
What makes her situation so isolating is that no one believes her.
“There are many sufferers, but they’re generally dismissed or ignored,” she adds in one entry. Her doctor, thinking she’s depressed, prescribes her mood-altering drugs.
The only place she can find solace is in unpopulated areas.
What’s so fascinating is how Delporte’s drawings and text change to reflect the narrator’s state of mind as she withdraws from society.
When she flees to the countryside at one point, the colour is literally drained from her narrative, the story turning into a black-and-white passage which contrasts with the vivid pencil crayons used in other segments.
This is a melancholy piece of work.
If this is a horror story, modernity itself is the relentless monster bringing the central character down.
How can she hope to find a place on this planet where she will be free of torment? “It’s too late to turn back the clock,” she concludes in one entry.
Antennas Everywhere is an alternative to the usual comic fare. It presents a story that will never be told in mainstream comics and is an emotional roller-coaster offering a counterpoint to how comic companies like Marvel have traditionally viewed radiation — as a source of magical powers and limitless strength.