This Woman’s Work by Julie Delporte, Drawn & Quarterly, 256 pages
Full disclosure: this colourful, rich book takes some processing. Read it and return to it, and still it will keep you coming back to experience its beauty, and messages again.
It’s an autobiographical work by the Montreal-based creator, with an introspective tone. Issues of sexual abuse, gender and feminism are threaded throughout as Delporte’s narrative jumps between experiences in Canada and parts of Europe. Her artistic snapshots are held together by tone more than story.
The art style, relying on coloured pencils, white space and cursive text looping around the illustrations, is superb and exactly right for that tone. Its subtle sophistication echoes the work of Tove Jansson, the Finnish creator of the Moomins, who fascinates Delporte and is mentioned throughout the book.
It’s rewarding and accessible, but challenging. This Woman’s Work is an important book.
Off Season by James Sturm, Drawn & Quarterly, 216 pages
We’re spoiled these days by the sheer number of gifted people telling slow-burning stories in graphic novel format. Setting the right pace is so important in the medium’s storytelling. Few set pace as well as James Sturm.
In Off Season, he roots us in unexpectedly turbulent events: the U.S. election of 2016. While the nomination battles take place, then on through the election itself, a couple grow apart and split, their distance becoming a comment on American society.
As the troubled characters stagger from crisis to crisis as if punch-drunk, the country experiences its own separation. It’s grim stuff, mostly focused on a single father who just can’t get a break and is, frankly, an idiot. The subtext is plain, yet thought-provoking.
Like his 2017 work The Golem’s Mighty Swing, this book shows Sturm is an intelligent writer with much to say ... slowly.