Friday, April 6, 2012


Factory Hollow Press, 2012. I Want to Open the Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant is a poetry comic written and drawn by Bianca Stone. Imagine if Edward Gorey and Frank O'Hara had the complete DVD set of Star Trek: Voyager when they were roommates at Harvard and the haunting, delightful, generously weird tone of this book, moving line by line, frame by frame, and page by page towards inexplicable wonder, will be immediately clear. In the two pieces in the book, "Waltzing With You" and "Les Miserables," the poetry and the images are so seamlessly combined that it never feels as if one came before the other, as if they were somehow created simultaneously. Blurring distinctions between human and nonhuman, conscious and unconscious, the images have a fragile, hopeful sorrow to them, reminding you that these poetry comics are hand-drawn and that they are human-drawn, in the sense that they are emotionally and imaginatively active, never simply illustrations. That there is never a truly straight line, that nearly every figure and scene is distorted and darkly singular, that lines like "Can you see me in the dusk, asking nothing of it?" are tethered to these figures and scenes in a way that works on a reader's intuition like the waking aftermath of a dream, that as I write this I am realizing that a line is something you both draw and write and how odd it is to have never stumbled on that thought before but how obvious it is that the aesthetic of a drawn line that is never straight would perfectly translate into a written line whose logic, images, or associations are not straight or straight-forward makes so much sense: all of these things contribute to make this book, like any exciting piece of art, an experience that asks to be returned to over and over, never feeling completely tied up. It's as if every time I close and open the book the drawings have slightly shifted or a new line has been added. Did that typewriter say "Enigma Machine" last time I saw it? If only these were the questions we were always asking ourselves.

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