Norwegian artist Maria Midttun’s 8-page story Lava Rock was originally published as part of the collection Fragment by Blokk Forlag last year. This standalone self-published version is described by the artist in the unlikely terms of “a Risoprinted comic about part-time jobs and lava rocks” and is presented in a translated English language version.
Lava Rock is a curious mix of pseudo-fatalism and everyday routine. On vacation, two friends visit the site of a volcano and, despite warnings that the goddess Pele does not take kindly to those who remove volcanic rocks from the area, one of them decides to dismiss that advice and take one home to use as a foot scrubber. When she returns to her more pedestrian life she finds her 9 to 5 working day intolerable and her creativity stifled. As she begins to wallow in the pointlessness of her job she begins to wonder whether her appropriation of the lava rock has led to her being cursed after all…
Of course it’s up to the individual reader to decide whether any supernatural influence is really part of the fabric of this tale or whether the rock and its “curse” is merely a symbolic representation of dissatisfaction and a lack of self-fulfilment. Midttun’s capturing of the frustrations of everyday office tedium in that regard is wittily observed with one panel in particular standing out (above right) as her description of the monotony and soul-destroying nature of her job oppresses her prone form.
Working in what appears to be a collage-style presentation, Midttun’s enjoyably caricatured and exaggerated forms and her disproportionate figures add to the comic’s sense of awkward unease. At eight pages Lava Rock‘s tale of existantial angst is barely a taster of Midttun’s style but it’s one that ensures the reader will be looking out for her appealingly eccentric approach to graphic narrative in future.
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Review by Andy Oliver
Maria Midttun is a guest at this week’s Gosh! Comics and Broken Frontier Drink and Draw on Wednesday February 27th. More details here.