It’s 4am and I’m asleep; let’s look at one of my favourite comics of the year, Grip, by Lale Westvind.
Here’s how the book is described online:
“There is a kind of control – of the hands – a type of touch – that is skillful and sure, a graceful and practiced ability, to manipulate… anything…GRIP; After a strange incident a young women’s hands are never still. A hand-heavy homage to women in the trades and people using their hands, Grip is an odyssey transmitted in twisting sign language.”
Plot-wise, a young woman follows… something? Down an alley, endures some sort of transformation, and awakes to find her hands able to manipulate matter to an incredible degree, seemingly without her influence.
Here she is trying her newfound skills on a kettle…
and here she turns her attentions to a toaster…
…and as the story builds, our hero learns to appreciate and control her new ability via learning under the working women in her world: her mother’s friend, a diner waitress, and in a thrilling sequence, a pilot.
The book is risographed, meaning it looks like the kettle image more than the toaster image. The effect makes it kinda sparkle, and adds a grainy patina that makes the tome look and even feel other-worldly, like a mysterious relic. And the colours just explode. The printing technique here works in tandem with the art to produce a wonderfully disorientating, transportive experience. Look at this!!
It’s a big 60+ pages long and nearly entirely wordless, and it’s like nothing else I’ve read or even seen before. By the visual flourishes at the end, it feels like the book is actually in danger of vibrating out of the hand. Westvind produces consistently intense, beautiful, mind-bending comics, but unlike many of her peers, she is able to clearly communicate a coherent vision or idea every time, making her immediately more compelling than a lot of the stream-of-consciousness alt-comix crowd (and I love the stream-of-consciousness alt-comix crowd). The best part is, it’s number 1! There’s gonna be more! I can’t wait!
Thanks for reading my obsequious bleatings. Have a good night. See you soon morning crew!