“My name is Elizabeth and I am addicted to creating and expressing thoughts.”
So much of UK small presser Elizabeth Querstret’s practice can be summed up in that one soundbite. With her several years of prolific output Querstret is now one of the true established mainstays of our self-publishing scene. Her work has ranged from DIY stream-of-consciousness zine output like her visual essay on consumerism You Don’t Need This or her comics on terrible employment experiences in Enter My Working World, through to her publication by Avery Hill with Walks with LuLu, a philosophical reflection on dog-walking. She’s also been a frequent contributor to anthology publications during that period.
Querstret’s work is notable for its immediacy and truthfulness, capturing the pure essence of what she wants to communicate without any perceived need for constant refinement or elaboration. In that regard she’s as much zinester as she is comics creator and therein lies the very special charm of her approach to her graphic narrative. Too Serious to Sleep sits at the more meditative end of her practice rather than the totally irreverent autobio she sometimes revels in but it still has many moments of endearing silliness amongst the deeper examinations of mental health issues and aspirational thinking.
Comprising single illustrations that explore some of life’s deeper moments through (often animal-inspired) visual metaphor Too Serious to Sleep examines recurring motifs of anxiety in a compilation that looks to remind us that we are never alone in our bleaker experiences. It ranges from the emotionally profound (one page reminds us that however small our concerns are in the big scheme of things they are still very real to us), to the whimsically familiar (the allegory of industrious snails only ever a moment away from being accidentally stepped on) through to the wittily perspective-changing (if a bird poos on you remember you’re not a cat and you don’t have to lick yourself clean…).
Described by Querstret as “musings from my mind” Too Serious to Sleep is not simply a set of familiar experiences committed to the page but also a reminder that DIY culture allows us to share these thoughts in an accessible and communal way. This isn’t pure comics by any means but it is a quintessential introduction to the unique presence of Elizabeth Querstret for those looking to discover new creative voices at Hackney Comic + Zine Fair in September.
Review by Andy Oliver
Elizabeth Querstret will be exhibiting at Hackney Comic + Zine Fair on Sunday September 8th at Table 19.