Eleanor Davis’ The Hard Tomorrow is an incredible and timely portrait of modern life that feels almost apocalyptic. Hannah works as a carer for the elderly while living in a caravan her partner Johnny, as they face the daunting task of building a house together. As Hannah attempts to get pregnant and Johnny makes no progress on the home, they find themselves drifting further apart. It doesn’t help that everyone around them is preoccupied with the question of survival – from the left-wing anti-violence society Hannah is a part of, to the militant right-wing gunman Johnny befriends. Davis captures the feeling of a world on the cusp of change, asking how one can deal with the guilt of prioritising their own desires within a society that is falling apart. This is a book you’ll think about for days after reading.
The passage of time is one of the great tricks of cartooning. Controlling the pace and passage of time in a medium where the artist ultimately relinquishes control of such things to the reader is a masterful skill, with only a few really accomplished practitioners. Confident, then, is the cartoonist who actively engages with the subject as Huizenga does here, and exciting too that he actually succeeds. The River at Night is a meditation on time, a series of vignettes as author stand-in Glenn Ganges struggles with insomnia. His mind wanders to various fancies, and so too does the storytelling, engaging in the kind of formalist experimentation that lets us see things we’ve never (or rarely) seen done effectively before. A masterclass in the craft that also acts as a fascinating, not to mention entertaining, philosophical piece.
Julie Delporte’s This Woman’s Work is a masterpiece. Brought to life in stunning coloured pencil sketches, Delporte ponders the nature of womanhood and of art, interweaving deeply personal anecdotes with wider feminist and literary theory. Delporte writes so sparsely and so naturally that reading it feels almost like breathing, but her work is deep, considered and intellectual in a way that is bound to both resonant and astound. The resentment of womanhood is central to her thesis, and through this lens she examines art, the media and her own past, building up a repertoire of the ways her own femininity has been used against her. Delporte cannot come to a conclusion on how to fix this, but This Woman’s Work is a powerful meditation on the complexities of being both artist and woman – and how to love the incompatibility of being both.