Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget that comics as a medium are just as appropriate a format for dwelling on the smaller, quieter moments of life as they are about ostentatious overarching story arcs or flashy visual pyrotechnics. Nuala C. Murphy’s My Whole World fits firmly into the former camp because, to all intents and purposes, there’s not even a formal narrative to speak of in these pages. Instead, this 16-page minicomic is simply a collection of isolated moments in the mother-daughter relationship that touchingly captures a maternal perspective on a small child’s view of the world around her.
Murphy’s strips in these pages cover scenarios that range from distracted hijinks at the dinner table to improvised junior keyboard playing. My Whole World is full of examples of those curious instances of child logic that, nonetheless, make absolute sense to the youngster in question as they interact with and interpret the world around them. From inquisitiveness during a bedtime story in ‘Goodnight’ to creating/conversing in another language in ‘Gibberish’, Murphy carefully recreates a child’s innocent perception of the environment that surrounds her.
The true charm of My Whole World, though, is in Murphy’s delicate visual portrayal of childhood reactions – whether it’s that sense of awe as a birthday present is opened, the subsequent show of love for the new stuffed toy that lurked within its wrappings, or the wild trips of imagination that a small girl at play can take while remaining oblivious to everything around her. Her style may be minimalist but there’s an emotional clarity to her art that ensures you share in the wide-eyed wonder of her “protagonist”.
My Whole World is a far more subtle minicomic than its selection of understated vignettes may suggest at a first glance. Granted, those who fail to recognise that may find it too slender a piece for their tastes, and it is indeed a brief read if you’re unwilling to linger on its images and consider what you’re being invited to share in. Those with a keener eye, however, will recognise just how beautifully observed a comic this is. A small press slice-of-lifer that is just crying out for a follow-up or three…
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