Spiral and Other Stories

New York Review Comics. Apr. 2024. 208p. ISBN 9781681378350. pap. $24.95. F
Founder of the Institute for Interspecies Arts and Relations, Koch (After Nothing Comes) evokes the interconnectedness of humans with all of nature through four lovely, spare, and challenging short stories. The 12-part titular story follows a woman living with old friends, yet seeking to relocate to an unfamiliar faraway farm where she can resume painting; her experiences are intercut with parable-like vignettes about waters meeting and mingling. In “A New Year,” tourists marvel over the local village’s past when animists believed the forest was alive, and a special tree held souls. “The Forest” centers on a river, a forest, a sky, and a lone individual who waits with them. “Man Made Lake” introduces a youth who describes to a therapist his earlier life as an aquatic being. The book’s evocative multimedia art juxtaposes soft ink-and-color-wash characters against intensely hued sweeps of water, earth, and sky, contrasted tellingly with sketchy lines implying buildings. The text’s loose, intimate-appearing font suggests handwriting. The overall effect is charming, poignant, and somewhat mysterious.
VERDICT Koch considers whether humans can understand and protect nature, and her multi-form characters call readers to recognize them, to empathize and preserve. A good volume for ecology collections; also important for students of graphic narrative.
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