Becoming Horses

Drawn & Quarterly. Feb. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9781770463479. pap. $21.95. Rated: Teen+. literary
DEBUT A group of girls searching for a herd of horses encounter a series of strange artists while wandering a shifting landscape in Swedish cartoonist Wallander’s wonderfully experimental first full-length comic. Wallander examines the urge for self-expression and artistic process with a mix of surrealism, philosophical musing, and satire. The girls meet one woman who lives inside a replica of her own womb, another who brags about the intensity with which she’s preserved her childlike sense of wonder, and later a group of artists who have formed a collective in order literally to cry a river in which they plan to drown. At one point, the girls are swallowed by a giant; inside her, an interior decorator instructs them how to pose their bodies. When they finally find the horses, some of them are tiny, others are abstract blobs of color. Central characters are mostly depicted in sketchy lines, while the world around them is composed of colorful collages that combine intricate patterns, various textures, different painting techniques, and photography.
VERDICT Wallander’s ideas about art are provocative, and her illustrations are incredibly striking in this memorable debut.

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