Whit Taylor, 120 pgs, Rosarium Publishing, rosariumpublishing.com, $17.95
Sometimes, especially if you (like me) have a soft spot for mainstream comics, it can feel like graphic novels are dominated by work that is the equivalent of Transformers 5: all flashy visuals and slick production values, with no trace of heart whatsoever. Thankfully, creators like Whit Taylor are here to help remind us what is possible when cartoonists are able to be emotionally honest in their work.
Ghost Stories, Taylor’s most recent collection, comprises three short stories dealing with relationships, trauma, and family. From the struggles of overcoming a sexual assault to the difficulties of navigating a changing friendship as years pass, Taylor treats her characters with the nuance and care that they deserve, and creates multi-faceted, engaging narratives. The stories feel particularly intimate, an effect accentuated by her art — in an era of digital illustrations, Taylor’s work retains its handmade personality, marker lines and all.
Of the three, my favourite piece was “Wallpaper,” the story of a home and of growing up in it, as told via a selection of anecdotes accompanied by careful, close-up illustrations of different surfaces and wallpaper patterns. Taylor’s attention to detail when recreating white lace, autumn leaves, and Victorian peonies is strangely endearing, and lends the story a peculiar kind of weight.
Ghost Stories feels like a quiet moment apart from the thunder and lightning of the world these days, and I think we can all use a few more of those.