Ley Lines, previously covered on Broken Frontier here, gives comic artists “a platform… to directly engage with influences beyond the realm of comics.” It’s a quarterly series put out by New York and Rhode Island outfits Grindstone Comics and Czap Books. Simultaneously reaching for the meta, and centred comfortably in the personal experience of each edition’s creator, this has been a vitally important series exploring how we exist in this world full of overlapping experiences and pluralistic readings of others’ creative output across the boundaries of genre and form.
Cabra Cabra is those things and also a lot of fun! Spare and expressive, part fable, part tirade, we see a metaphorical internal dialogue where Victor Martins (Brazilian, Toronto-based cartoonist, personified here by a cute cartoon goat) wrestles with mixed feelings over Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography in monochrome blue tones, and with a joyfully loose digital line. The personified goat ignores their friends and spies on Orlando through the bushes, watching them trip through the motions of a narrative that has scandalised and thrilled readers since 1928. The ecstasy of which builds until only page 9 with the outburst “WHY WHY WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS?”.
Returning to our favourites from childhood or early adulthood with newly critical eye is often painful. In this case Martins’ delight in the fluidity of gender and love expressed in Woolf’s novel when young, helping them process their emerging trans identity, is tainted by the large amounts of problematic racism, classism and other isms that an adult reading of the text reveals. Like a lot of the queer and feminist canon “enthusiastically complicit in the fun breezy project of white supremacy”, Orlando perpetuates as many oppressions as it questions. This whole knotty issue is met here with elegant whimsy, and a cardboard box time machine – I won’t spoil any more than that but suffice it to say that confronting demons is not a simple undertaking and ultimately the goat Victor Martins is able to place their priorities in a more helpful place.
I absolutely loved this comic, it’s the first issue of Ley Lines I’ve read but I will be looking into reading some more for sure. Select issues including this one, and a subscription to the four issues arriving in 2020 can be purchased here.
Victor Martins (W/A) • Czap Books, $6.00
Review by Jenny Robins