Earlier this month at Broken Frontier we ran the collected version of Broken Frontier Award-nominated artist Wallis Eates’s #30DaysComics November. A vast, sprawling visual metaphor, ‘November’ was something of a departure from the artist’s usual work in autobiographical comics.
As part of that feature Wallis also announced a competition for the reader who sent in the best interpretation of the strip. After scouring the entries she’s chosen Toim Saible as giving the most intriguing explanation. You can revisit November at Broken Frontier here. Below she explains the strip’s themes and narrative.
The Full Explanation
Blood is drawn from the hearts of women.
It’s a sad and desolate world where this happens.
It seems like a routine procedure; it’s part of the norm. But when April removes her plaster, the marking on its inside doesn’t correlate with the puncture wound on her breast.
Not only that, but it seems to change when she looks away.
All is not as it seems.
April throws the plaster out of the window. She is the mind of our protagonist, and she is not yet ready to remember what has happened to her. By throwing the plaster away, she summons her shadow, her soul – November.
The plaster, with her blood, meets with the ground. That’s because really, this is where April’s body lies.
April’s unaware as she prepares for the mission that November has arrived to lead. November, on the other hand, remembers. She remembers what really happened on that operating table; what really happens everywhere. The widescale abuse, the disregard. The trauma that dislocates minds, bodies and souls. November thinks of her journey back toward the body, the journey that will only be made complete if she can engage the mind, because only then can they confront the Enemy…
The body needs, and November knows. But April is distracted. This mark on her breast, this strange, drained feeling.
Will April see November if she faces once again this breast? She looks in the mirror but no. It’s time for the soul to work some magic. From soul heart to the mind’s breast, she delivers an army. April is now ready to begin…
The Enemy, the World Bloodsucker, sees her coming, sees her army, even foresees its own demise, but is too pompous to stop sucking.
Armies like November’s are coming from all corners of the world to unite. April, who believes she’s still wounded, begins to bleed again. November can but hope that April has connected enough to her, the body is in her hands now. With relief she sees that April has indeed picked up on some mysterious momentum; smearing the blood through her hair she is ready for battle.
As this decision elevates her, so she joins with higher ranks. Together they reclaim their blood by raining it over the disregarded women’s bodies, preparing them for resurrection. In turn, the Earth is activated and gives rise to the Roebuck Stag who will take the army on the final leg of its journey.
They approach the Little White House where the World Bloodsucker lives. He is afraid. In they crash, and through sheer will they over power him. They are stronger in number, clearer of mind and purer of soul. Through smiles alone they are victorious as the parasitic enemy simply fades. His doings are undone and he becomes bloodless. The world is saved. April now sees November, taking them back home.
Together they open the window where the plaster was once tossed. It’s a bright day, and the body of April rises, integrated with her mind and soul. She looks up and smiles. There is a new future.
So… November is an allegorical fantasy of overthrowing Trump with people power. The blue/green Worldsucker blob thing first appears the day he got elected. The two circles throughout the strip represent portals of opportunity for the individual, and changing worlds for the collective. The protagonist is female, obviously, in response to the misogyny of that floppy-mouthed bastard. It could also be argued that the final scene is a celebration of same-sex couples, though I’m not sure anyone would want to grow their baby in the garden. Unless it’s the World’s baby, in which case she would need to look less Swedish and more Worldish. I wish I’d made her look more Worldish.
Everything at the moment feels a bit like being in the middle of a futuristic Bible story where no-one’s learned any fables yet. The terrifying simplicity of Good vs Evil (and seeing things in this way) is the threat that evil wins because the monster-slayer becomes the monster through the very act of slaying. The feeling of powerlessness gives rise to fantasies of shooting that vomit-haired germ-collation through the head, and oh, the irony of that. So, for my own satisfaction really, I wanted to offer an outcome where the slaying is done quite nicely. Just a walk with some mates, a bit of flying, and some really, really powerful smiling.
I was really impressed with Toim Saible’s interpretation of the story. He began with describing the sense of mortality that one faces when dealt with a health issue, and the subsequent oscillations between feeling connected and disconnected with the rest of humanity and how nature plays a role in this. He then describes how neuroses and anxieties can transform to bring us strength as we journey on through to a sense of resolution. Well done, Toim! A print of his choice will be coming his way…
I love how Tom Waits wrote a song, I took the lyrics and did something else, then Toim Saible created another thing out of that. It’s a bit like smiling strongly with mates in the face of blobs.
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