The Lagoon

Writer / Artist
The Lagoon
The Lagoon graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Fantagraphics Books - 1-56097-954-2
  • Release date: 2009
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781560979548
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Horror

What do your comics sound like? What beats and rhythms echo behind your eyes when you absorb pictorial narrative?

The Lagoon delivers fragments of young Zoey’s experiences growing up in a rural outpost where she, her parents and her grandfather live beside a cold black body of water. Within the brackish, weed-choked mire, a bizarre, monstrous beast dwells, but her family and the sundry other disparate souls who live adjacent gladly tolerate it since it does no obvious harm.

In fact, over the years, the incredible, indescribable call of the creature in the night has led to many odd happenings and disappearances. The plaintive cry of the creature obsesses and possesses the mere mortals and as years pass, Zoey gradually loses everyone but her grandpa to the night-singer. Her time is taken up with music and learning the piano, but all anyone really hears is that plaint on the midnight breezes.

Dark, ambiguously chilling and comfortable at the same time, the naïve-ist illustration compulsively uses patterns and symbols to depict how sounds look and music appears while recounting the relationship of the creature – far, far more than a dumb beast – and the inevitably maturing and isolated young girl. This intensely experimental picture-parable is mesmerising and powerfully effective for all its brevity.

Lilli Carré first drew critical attention with her short stories – collected as Tales of Woodsman Pete and this slim monochrome tome was her first graphic novel. It’s a whimsical, expressive and bleakly enchanting exploration of great power and gentle lyricism apparently stemming from idle experimentation with pens and brushes. Oh, if only all doodles grew into such sweet storytelling.

Lying far from comics’ genre-ghettos, this is a perfect book for the discerning reader in search of something different.