THOUGHT BUBBLE 2023! To describe Erika Price’s Disorder as body horror seems woefully inadequate. This collection of short visual essays takes autobiographical comics in new directions, employing the darkest of symbolism and metaphor to propel us into a nightmarish mindscape. It’s a world that Price doesn’t simply express on the comics page. It’s more like she projects it there in all its raw, visceral, monstrous humanity. Disorder is an exceptionally evocative manipulation of the language of comics and a haunting reminder of its connective power in sharing lived experiences with an audience.
Using the potential of black and white art to its fullest as a storytelling tool Price explores themes of dysmorphia, trauma and mental health in short comics that are sometimes stream-of-consciousness in approach and sometimes have a representational specificity. Feelings of disconnection and entrapment in a cycle of negativity hit us with a powerful impact early on while later entries present the darkest reflections of the trans experience with stark imagery that evokes sensations of oppression, disdain and the societal judgement of others.
Price’s aching visuals are designed to disorient and unsettle; to bring us intimately into the feelings of despair and despondency she is conveying. Terrifying metamorphoses, great landscapes of piled-up bodies, abstract biological processes and ghostly wraiths all combine to create a relentless, organic sense of the overwhelming and the claustrophobic. Each chapter can take the form of illustrated ruminations or pure, silent graphic metaphor; comics that we react to more than we actually read.
Undoubtedly Disorder presents a unique approach to its subject matter. It’s a comic of fractured, fragmented, disintegrating images but this portrayal of a shattered psyche is also articulate, demonstrative and eloquent for all that brutal rawness. And, vitally, this is also a potent example of experimental sequential art that reminds us of the vast untapped potential of the form.
Erika Price (W/A) • Self-published
Review by Andy Oliver
Erika Price is at Table B49 in the Dstlry Hall at Thought Bubble 2023
Review by Andy Oliver