GRAPHIC NOVELS

Iris: A Novel for Viewers

Fantagraphics Jun. 2024. 160p. tr. from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. ISBN 9781683969556. pap. $24.99. F
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Visionary illustrator Tjong-Khing (The Moon is a Ball: Stories of Panda & Squirrel) and author Hartog van Banda (Lucky Luke, Vol. 65: Ghost Hunt) present a psychedelic science fiction tour-de-force, originally released in the Netherlands in 1968 and finally available for the first time in English. Though she has garnered a strong following as a performer in Amsterdam’s nightclub scene, Iris dreams of becoming a worldwide megastar. Enter M.G., the enigmatic and seemingly all-powerful Dream King, who invites her to move into his highly guarded Dream Factory, where he and his legion of grim-faced minions begin the process of molding Iris into “the idol of a new era.” It works, but there’s a catch—M.G. turns out to be less interested in Iris as a performer than he is in her appearance and begins promoting performances by a holographic doppelganger and marketing life-size Iris dolls while she remains trapped within his headquarters.
VERDICT Tjong-Khing draws on psychedelic and pop art influences, using exaggerated figures, flamboyant gestures, and vivid color to evoke an uncanny sense of movement and unbridled emotion in this fascinatingly surreal dystopian science fiction pop fantasia.
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