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Everywhere Antennas by Julie Delporte

A graphic novel reviewed by Joseph Karey

A young woman in France begins to understand that the modern world of electric current and wireless signals is causing her to become physically ill, and like a present-day Thoreau she embarks on a retreat from the world of computers and cell phones. Fragments of her tumultuous life in Paris, are contrasted with her solitude in rural North America as she tries to find a place for herself away from the omni-present electrical antennae. This graphic story is told in a low-tech style, drawn and lettered mostly in coloured pencil. The chapters were drawn at different times, in slightly different styles. The first chapter was done entirely in coloured pencil, a later one in graphite, others with wash added. The text and drawings were clearly handcrafted; the printing of the book reproduces traces of white-out, along with shadows of the scotch tape that the artist had used to combine different sketches on a single page. Mass circulation American comic books now are high-tech, with line drawing simplified then submerged under computer colours and Photoshop effects. With text printed in computer fonts patterned after hand-lettering; these books can look like they were made by a machine. Delporte's book on the other hand, is drawn and lettered in a way that matches her theme - the work of a single hand, created on paper instead of with pixels. Delporte's story originally appeared as a series of small circulation mini-comics. They were coloured photocopies on 8" x 10" paper folded in half and stapled to make a booklet. These minis were in French with typed English sub-titles below each page of art. For the bound edition, hand-lettered English text have been integrated with the drawings.

Unfortunately, this new English version also saw some unwarranted editing; a discretely drawn sexual moment at Baie St. Paul has been removed to make the work more family friendly. Hopefully if the book is ever printed in the original French, it can be done without censorship. In an age when social interaction takes place on the internet and couples sit together in cafes staring at their respective screens, Delporte's book is a thoughtful reminder that there are, or should be, other ways to live.

Julie Delporte's " Everywhere Antennas" is published by Drawn and Quarterly.

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