DEBUTING AT THOUGHT BUBBLE!
Ever since we were the first site to cover the comics of Elizabeth Querstret – one of the most endearing characters on the UK small press circuit – way back in January 2014 I’ve had a pronounced fondness for not just her always engaging autobio work but also her other idiosyncratic projects. These have, over the years, included tactile, elaborately folded comics, an “ark of animals” in a matchbox, zines randomly left in bookstores (and other locations) for strangers to discover and pick up, and humorous books like Zoological.
She is, without a doubt, an absolute one-off in British comics and the scene would be all the poorer without her.
Capturing the immediacy of the moment and communicating that to her readership has always been at the heart of Querstret’s comics which often employ a very basic representational technique. Those who have been following her work over the years will know, however, that she’s also capable of working in a far more elaborate style when appropriate – one that she employed, for example, in the pensive and reflective Walks with Lulu from Avery Hill Publishing.
It’s that latter Querstret-ian incarnation who not just creates but inhabits the pages of New York (A Holiday to Remember), one of two Thought Bubble-debuting publications from the new Good Zines imprint from Good Comics. Detailing a vacation of a lifetime for Querstret and her partner, it’s illustrated with layouts that are far more detailed and realistic than readers of her webcomics and self-published work may have come to expect.
Presented as something of a scrapbook of touristy experiences New York (A Holiday to Remember) is nevertheless as much a meditation on friendship, family and relationships as it is a travelogue. On a surface level it is, indeed, an account of the sense of discovery and awe that visiting a new destination can bring and, in that regard, Querstret ably pulls us into her on-page self’s excitement and enthusiasm with her amiable presence as narrator, allowing us to enjoy sights like the Flatiron Building, the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station alongside her.
But this is also a comic that stresses the importance of the people we surround ourselves with – even if they are a continent away – as the author catches up with a sister she hasn’t seen in four years and an old school friend, and undertakes an emotional journey that is just as important to her as the geographical one. It’s a narrative that one suspects has been created as much for the artist as it has for an audience but it’s no less engaging for that.
New York (A Holiday to Remember) switches between the employment of single-page illustrations and more traditional comics storytelling to recount her New York adventures. Speech balloons and their placement are particularly well utilised to signal a sense of conversational back and forth between Querstret and her partner and overlapping panels represent the hustle and bustle of their packed itinerary. But it’s her use of perspective that most successfully recreates the pair’s feelings of wonder as they interact with this simultaneously recognisable yet alien environment.
Another affable invitation into the world of Elizabeth Querstret, New York (A Holiday to Remember) is a diary comic as full of heart as its creator.
For more on the work of Elizabeth Querstret visit her site here. You can buy her print comics from her store here. You can also follow Elizabeth on Twitter here. Elizabeth will also be tabling at Thought Bubble in the Victoria Hall at Table 39b.
You can pre-order the new Good Comics books here and visit them at Thought Bubble 2017 at Table 36 in the Cookridge Street Marquee.
For regular updates on all things small press follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here.