Book: The Cage
Author: Martin Vaughn-James
Published: 1975 (Coach House Books)
I have no idea what I just read. This was the graphic novel equivalent of watching performance art without a program.
Brace yourselves for my practical side, because it hated the fact that the pictures didn’t go at all with the words and not in a juxtaposition-y or ironic way that shows actual connection even if it’s negative or unexpected, but in a way that made my brain hurt from trying to make it all mean something beyond a gnawing sense of unease that doesn’t go anywhere.
The post-modern side of me, which is admittedly smaller and less concrete, loved it, though. The text was a sort of sensory poem about a cage that either morphs into or holds or is in this wonky room, and the viewpoint keeps flying around and images of pain and distortion are clear without ever being spelled out for you. The pictures, one big central panel on each page, are like that too, only in a different sequence that no I seriously couldn’t puzzle out any sort of meaning and dangit, fine, I don’t like that. I subscribe to the theory that there’s not much meaning in life and being reminded of that is kind of depressing, which is probably this guy’s point, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my illustrated nihilism with a more obvious visual connection.
I feel weird and a little simple criticizing this so much, because the language is beautiful and so are the line drawings, but writing is communicating even if it’s super-abstract and I guess what I really mean is this doesn’t work that way for me. Back to the library it goes.