Louise Reimer’s illustrations have appeared in Broken Pencil before, and there’s a good reason for that: her combination of notebook doodles and watercolour landscapes are as clever as they are modest. Her most recent work Little Death begins with a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune, and states simply, “This is a series of drawings about self-doubt, insecurity, and perseverance.” The remaining 10 pages of the zine are filled with eight different illustrations that track a vague narrative from fetal-position-despair to outstretched-arms-triumph.
It seems almost counterintuitive to title one’s work Little Death — being a direct translation of ‘la petit mort,’ the French phrase for ‘orgasm’ — and avoid any kind of sexual subtext. The phrase takes its lead from the opening Herbert quote (“Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration”), but it seems a great deal more nondescript in that context, and not fit for the unintended implications brought about by its presence on the front and centre.
But aside from this minor gripe, Little Death is a lovely little zine. Reimer has a great style, marked mostly by its notebook-sketch figures trekking across watercolour scenes. She manages the floaty vibrance so common in fantasy illustrations without the luxury of coloured ink. The illustrations themselves, featuring jungles and mushroom caps, are whimsical, and the narrative is compelling enough to keep the pages turning. With its colourful jacket and its sympathetic sketches, Little Death receives my recommendation. (Joel W. Vaughan)