The opening pages of Kim Salt’s Taemons – published by ELCAF exhibitors Shortbox – offer a near mesmerising example of using comics’ unique visual language to communicate personal experience in a way that exploits the storytelling tools of the form to their greatest effect. In a powerful piece of visual metaphor, a young woman speaks of her loneliness in terms of the walls that she has built around her.
Playing with comics’ particular relationship with time we observe as she slowly constructs those representational barriers, eventually residing in her own personal fortress of isolation. Here she looks out on her world, a remote entity observing existence through the panels of the page in self-imposed, claustrophobic imprisonment.
It’s indicative of the way in which Salt’s short story will continue to so fully utilise the potential of the medium in a comic that constantly toys with structure, layout, panel placement and perspective. Advised by a friend to try an app called Taemons to confront her inner demons by connecting with a literal one in her local area, the woman finds herself transported to an otherworldly dimension. There she is forced to face not just the demon whose home it is but also come to terms with the harsh realities of her own situation…
While the idea of an app as a story device/catalyst for character development or narrative revelation has become a familiar one in recent years Taemons is more about the delivery of its message than its plot specifics. An offering that rewards multiple readings, it’s Salt’s stunning visuals – imbued at once with both an accessible, dreamy clarity and yet an intricate, busy sophistication – that instantly capture our imagination, conveying the main character’s experiences and emotions with a profound and connective empathy.
In Taemons form, theme and narrative work in perfect, fully integrated symbiosis. Fluid and flowing, and delicately coloured, it’s a quite beautiful story of self-acceptance, release and recovery, and almost a manifesto for what comics can achieve that other forms can never match.