Review by Stacia Oparowski, Library Assistant
Lilli Carré plays to her strengths in Heads or Tails, a series of short comic stories. These stories were created between 2007 and 2012 and appeared in The Best American Comics 2008, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010, and others. Some comics in this collection are very colorful, while others focus more on the talented artist’s line work. Her stories are very philosophical, a little dark, and complex.
The comics are longer toward the beginning, with a special section for the shorts later. My favorite longer story was “Rainbow Moment.” In it, people are telling stories about themselves and within those stories are more stories. Each story within a story is a different color of the rainbow. Well, not indigo. We begin in Orange with a man telling a story about how his wife was sitting upside-down one night, clearly drunk. She begins telling a story about a small bookstore where she found a book about bats, and then the woman at the checkout tells her a story about how she and her uncle would look for bats at night. The stories continue that way.
What I like best about Carré’s work is the dream-like quality. The people in the stories talk to each other and interacting in meaningful ways. The narrators are not always reliable, like when a man sees a woman blowing through the sky with the wind.
Aside from being an illustrator, Carré is an animator too. That didn’t surprise me to find out after reading this, as the scene transitions were often very smooth; nothing was lost between scenes. The short “All in a Day’s Work” was composed of 3 panel sequences. A man reading, a man getting sunburned, a man with a book tan. Sounds like something that has come dangerously close to happening to me before.
My favorite super-short comic was “Petunia.” It has six panels and three colors. A man is in love with a tree. After the tree “fell” for him and he built a fire with her, he fell for someone else after he swore never to forget his tree. A flower … a petunia. This reminded me of something I read a few years ago in Miranda July‘s book of short stories (No One Belongs Here More Than You) where a person falls in love with a tree on a walk home one day.
Heads or Tails was a joy to read. Each comic was easily relatable (Has there ever been a time when you thought you saw something strange but you didn’t actually?). The writing was thoughtful, and the illustrations were fun and weird and interesting.
I’m excited to read more from her, namely Tales of Woodsman Pete. Don’t be surprised if that’s my next review. It’s full of heartbreaking little events from the life of a lonely woodsman with a bearskin rug for a best friend. Hopefully we will have it at the library soon.
Lilli Carré is an animator, illustrator, filmmaker and tons of other things. She is based in Chicago and is the co-founder of Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation.