Monday, August 27, 2018

Monthly Stumblings #1: Pierre Duba

Racines (roots) by Pierre Duba

Sometimes I mumble an inner “Wow!”… It happens when I stumble upon a book that I find great. It’s quite possible too that, upon rereading, months or years later, I also say to myself: “How could I like this stuff so much?!”
The thing is that we need the right mood, the right brain wave connection to the work in order to truly like it. That, needless to say, is highly subjective and unconveyable. If our past selves can’t agree with our present selves, how can we (the journalist critics and reviewers) agree with people (the readers) whom we have never met?
There’s only one answer for that rhetorical question: the critics are always preaching to the already converted. Critics explain, analyse, synthesize, extrapolate, digress, etc… These are intellectual operations that have nothing whatsoever to do with love. Critics dissect and people (them included, I suppose, even if opinion is divided on the subject) enjoy living, breathing things, not corpses, as it were…
That being said criticism may also be very enjoyable. Conversely to the proof at hand (namely, this foreign’s poor attempt at writing in English) it can be very well written. It can also give the readers some food for thought after their consumers’ experience. (I don’t really like the word “consumer,” but it was too awkward to write: reader/viewer/listener… etc… you get the picture…)
In fact, the critic begins by simply enjoying the work, I suppose… What twisted mind picks up the scalpel after love? That’s what we do folks, but don’t be too harsh passing judgment on the judges: we do it because we are a curious lot (we are like children opening up their favorite toy); plus, we may unbury hidden treasures: discover highly ingenious mechanisms, work with the artist to reflect on the human condition, etc…
The title of this monthly column is too ambitious? Am I expecting to stumble on a comics masterpiece every month? Not really, true greatness (even if perceived in a subjective way) is rare. I will write about some “Hmmms…” instead of some “Wows!” most of the time, I guess… (I will also use the title to excuse myself: what do you expect? I’m stumbling here!)
For my first column I chose an author that I feel, since my TCJ’s messboard days, I’ve unwarrantedly neglected: UK born, French comics artist Pierre Duba. Here’s what I said in my blog’s first post:
It was February 24, 2004, 08:27 AM, on the Comics Journal Messboard. I’m not sure if this was the first time that I listed these comics there (probably not), but that’s what I did in that particular occasion. If I remember correctly (unfortunately I didn’t write a crib sheet at the time) I did previously post what I now call “my canon” because I was fed up with the accusation of not liking comics at all because I found children’s comics (and I do like Carl Barks’ oeuvre) somewhat wanting (melodrama and manichaeism in particular bother me plenty).”
A list followed, but I vaguely remember saying something like: I could add a couple more names and, then, I cited Pierre Duba.
Duba’s last book is titled Racines (6 pieds sous terre, 2010), but instead of trying an interpretation I will follow Susan Sontag’s advice and I will try what I say above is impossible to do (“unconveyable”). As Sontag advices in Against Interpretation I’ll try an erotics of art instead of a hermeneutics.

To truly experience the above page we need it to be just that: the original paper page (material aspects are the basis for a sensuous experience). Here, on a screen, it lacks the glossiness of the paper (and it is glossy). Even touch and smell are an important part of the process (I wonder if the internet and ebooks are going to establish the same relation with books as repros in art books established with real paintings and sculptures: it all comes down to a reduction of experience, substitutions of the real things by simulacra). This page is very appealing because it achieves the feeling which psychoanalyst Marion Milner called a close relationship with objects. It does that using three devices: 1) the black gutters (I miss Chester Brown’s stories, but I also miss his black, large, gutters) which “compress” space and unite as much, if not more, as they divide; 2) the panels lack a clear distinction between background and foreground giving us a closeness with whatever is represented (blood, methinks); 3) moduled forms that tend to be viewed as texture (en masse) rather than as individual shapes. The visual rhythm is also very appealing: we’re going along with the hypnotic movement marvelously and smoothly flowing from panel to panel. The colors’ muted contrast is also an important part of the whole effect.

In this page a certain creepiness appears (Racines is a bit creepy, to tell you the truth). The hands morph into the roots of the title. We’re still close, and I don’t need to repeat what I said above, but closeness isn’t always a good feeling.

This page is here because of the black and blue contrast. The foreground has holes that let us see a few steps, the doll, and a rabbit. (What’s the deal with Pierre Duba and rabbits, anyway?) But I’m falling into interpretation again. I told you this was an impossible task…

Pierre Duba’s pages function better as double-page spreads, as you can see here.

Duba explains himself.

Pierre Duba’s site.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What’s Missing From This Picture?

[If my piece about Contempt is my only film criticism, today I give you my only TV criticism. If I remember correctly it was written during a serious writer's block. I loved the series and I wanted to give my contribution to the round table about it, but the muse didn't show up that day and the crib sheet didn't help much either. I remember ending up with a sort of bad taste in my mouth... Even so, upon rereading the post below now I don't dislike it. It's right on the mark of what capitalism is doing to us all.]

Others have already pointed out that The Wire isn't as realistic as it seems. Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), for instance, is the hero of the American Monomyth. Here's how the latter is summarized in the words of John Shelton Lawrence and  Robert Jewett:
A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.
The Wire revises the myth thus: a community in hell (Bubbles - Andre Royo: "it's a thin line between heaven and here.") is threatened by some of hell's inhabitants; normal institutions, paralyzed by red tape, political agendas, and business as usual, fail to contend with this threat; a self-aggrandizing supercop emerges to be afflicted by temptations and fails to carry out the redemptive task; bumping his head against the system the supercop recedes into obscurity.
That's quite good. It revises the myth until it lies there, almost unrecognizable. Here's my version though: in its mythology of being the only possible system (in the best of all possible worlds as Pangloss would say; at the end of history as Fukuyama would add), and in its sanctification of profit (the market will provide), global capitalism transferred labor to developing countries where the wages are low (Walden Bello):
The extreme international mobility of corporate capital coupled with the largely self-imposed national limits on labor organizing by the Northern labor unions (except when this served Washington's Cold War political objectives) was a deadly formula that brought organized labor to its knees as corporate capital, virtually unopposed, transferred manufacturing jobs from the North to cheap-labor sites in the Third World.
Under these conditions a parallel economy thrives (mimicking the mainstream economy with its power struggles, cut-throat wars and iron clad hierarchies); those who are unprepared and uneducated, the poor, have no other option than to go underground; everything becomes simulacra in order to keep up appearances.
Hostage to the worlds of finance and economics politics is reduced to being a sport (I love the scene in which Carcetti campaigns in an elderly home: we can hear the crickets chirping because the seniors in there couldn't care less for this kind of sport); the police are a political tool; the education system is a dead end (and the students know it - Howard "Bunny" Colvin - Robert Wisdom: "I mean, they're not fools these kids. [...] [T]hey see right through us."). That's why Marcia Donnelly (Tootsie Duvall), the Assistant Principal of Edward J. Tilghman Middle School says to Bubbles that Sherrod (Rashad Orange) is going to be "socially promoted" after missing school for three years. In the end, everybody knows that it doesn't matter (those who do matter aren't in that kind of school). Everybody has some reason to pretend that it does though. I'll give the last word to David Simon:
Baltimore's dying port unions, is a meditation on the death of work and the betrayal of the American working class, it is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy, that on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many.
My problem with this statement is that David Simon should be saying it about the series as a whole. Why just season two? I hope that there isn't a hint somewhere suggesting that, given the chance, black people would still prefer the world of the corners instead of being part of the mainstream economy.
Another instance where the creators of the series juggle dangerously with cliché is in season four (my favorite, pardon the personal note). The aforementioned season includes a kind of Teacher Movie. It's true that, again, the writers do a good job of transcending the pernicious genre (the teacher, Roland "Mr. Prezbo" Pryzbylewski - Jim True-Frost - doesn't win the trust of his most difficult students completely alone). But he also conveys what I call the flawed Sesame Street Syndrome (or SSS). That is, students can learn while playing. Nicholas Buglione, wrote:
Dr. Robert Helfenbein, an education professor at Indiana University who specializes in urban education issues, believes these films trivialize the learning process and present an erroneously simple solution to what’s really a far more complex problem: Closing the achievement gap in inner-city schools.
That goal can't be achieved by any superhero teacher or caped crusader. It can only be achieved by closing the parallel gap between the wealthy and the poor.
The image above shows Bubbles pushing his peripatetic business. The original is a print on a t-shirt. I chose it because it is semiotically fascinating. On one end it's the perfect symbol of the parallel economy I talked about above. On the other end it shows the absolute base of the social pyramid, the junkie that is everybody's victim (I'm aware that Bubbles is a fictional character, mind). And yet... it's in a t-shirt... for sale! Grammar mistakes and all!... Capitalism appropriates everything by selling everything.

What's missing above is the real one.

In conclusion, the use of parallel montage gives the impression of a kaleidoscopic and complex view of the city. That's not untrue, but it just gives us the street level (in today's world of virtual politics, even the temples of infotainment and city hall are at street level). What really affects these people's lives is happening elsewhere, in the hallways of the plutocracy.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mickey Mouse The Racist

The theory that Mickey Mouse's design, by Ub Iwerks, was inspired by the racist show known as blackface minstrelsy appears here and there in texts about comics (and animation, I guess, but I don't read those...).You may think that it's just a theory lacking empirical proof. That may very well be... until now, that is.

You just need to look below, here's the smoking gun.

Left: gag by Floyd Gottfredson (Mickey Mouse daily, April 16, 1930); 
Right: Mammy, CD Compilation (1988) showing Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, 1927.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back To Film or Contempt: A Visual Reading and Other Loose Ends - Coda

Here's what I noticed:

Greed - 1924
L'Atalante - 1934
Brief Encounter - 1945
Late Spring - 1949
Stromboli - 1950
The River - 1951
Life of Oharu - 1952
El - 1953
Tokyo Story - 1953
Sansho the Bailiff - 1954
The Searchers - 1956
A Man Escaped - 1956
Pickpocket - 1959
Viridiana - 1961
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - 1962
Charulata - 1964
Husbands - 1970

Are the 1950s the golden age of film or what?!

Aren't there any good films shot after 1970? I bet there are, but this is a personal list and I can't think of any which impacted me as much as these ones.

Even worse than that. Here's an alternative list:

Sunrise - Murnau - 1927
The Wedding March - Stroheim - 1928
Queen Kelly - Stroheim - 1929
Young Mister Lincoln - John Ford - 1939
Bicycle Thieves - Vittorio de Sica- 1948
Rashomon - Akira Kurosawa - 1950
Ikiru - Kurosawa - 1952
Europe 51 - Rossellini - 1952
Ana-Ta-Han - Sternberg - 1953
Sound of the Mountain - Naruse - 1954
Ordet - C. Th. Dreyer - 1955
The Apu Trilogy - Satyajit Ray - 1955, 1956, 1959
The Apartment - Billy Wilder - 1960
Persona - Ingmar Bergman - 1966

See? More of the same...

I like Theo Angelopoulos, Abbas Kiarostami, Nuri Bilge Ceilan, and maybe, just maybe, I could think of some film made by these like Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami) 1997, even if I prefer the Kiarostami photographer to the Kiarostami filmmaker, or The Travelling Players (Angelopoulos) 1975, or Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders) 1976, but that's about it. Some Rohmer, I guess...I can't also forget two consecutive films by Martin Scorcese: the absolute delight that is the Proustian The Age of Innocence (1993) and the great Casino (1995).

Back To Comics

With Tsuge, no less...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Contempt: A Visual Reading and Other Loose Ends

[I hesitated to publish the below post on this blog about comics, but since I'm reposting here my Hooded Utilitarian posts I decided to give it a go...
It's my only film criticism. I wrote it because this is one of my favorite films (the others being, in no particular order - or, maybe, in this order: Sansho the Bailiff by Kenji Mizoguchi, Stromboli, by Roberto Rossellini, The Searchers by John Ford, A Man Escaped by Robert Bresson, L'Atalante by Jean Vigo, Late Spring by Yasujiro Ozu, Greed by Erich Von Stroheim, Husbands by John Cassavettes, Viridiana by Luis Buñuel, The River by Jean Renoir, Charulata by Satyajit Ray, Brief Encounter by David Lean, and a couple more by all of the above - or others, of course - like Pickpocket or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Tokyo Story or Life of Oharu or El or...).
Aparently (or explicitly) it embraces the auteur theory, so dear to nouvelle vague critics. Jean-Luc Godards's direction is crucial to this film, of course, but we can't forget other creative forces: the actors with a superb Brigitte Bardot in the role of her life; the magnificent cinematography by Raoul Coutard; the music by Georges Delerue; the original writing by Alberto Moravia, or... Adalberto Libera, the architect of Casa Malaparte...]

Lucien Goldmann, a Marxist critic, said that Contempt, a film by Jean-Luc Godard (1963): “is about the impossibility of loving in a world where The Odyssey can’t be filmed.” (In a world without gods.) It's an imaginative interpretation, and a surprisingly reactionary one coming from a Marxist critic commenting on the work of a Marxist director, but it links two of the picture’s themes: 1) the end of the couple Camille (Brigitte Bardot) and Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli); 2) the difficult relation between art and commerce; i. e.: the creative differences between director Fritz Lang (himself) and producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance).  The problem with Goldmann’s thesis is that he reached a totalizing conclusion starting with a particular example, but, mixing gods to the equation, the film invites such an universal statement.
Apparently the reason why Camille starts to despise Paul is more down to earth than hinted above: she feels used by her husband. When Jeremy Prokosch hits on her Paul does nothing until it is too late (he even encourages his advances ignoring her supplicating eyes). Godard himself said that Camille is like a vegetable
"acting  […] by instinct, so to speak, a kind of vital instinct like a plant that needs water to continue living."
Contempt is a tragedy (George Delerue's score never let us forget it; Paul to Camille:
"I love you totally, tenderly, tragically.")
and that’s why Lucien Goldmann isn’t that wrong. The events are linked together in a fabric weaved by the fates. Paul Javal was a hack who sold his wife the moment he sold himself. Camille doesn’t rationalize her reactions, but she’s a victim of the commodification of human relations.
The gods no longer exist, so, they can’t influence the lives of humans, but, in a capitalist world, money took their place reigning supreme over everything. That's why Jeremy Prokosch says:
"Oh! Gods! I like gods! I like them very much. I know exactly how they feel."
To which Fritz Lang replies:
"Jerry, don't forget: the gods have not created men; men have created gods."
If men created gods and destroyed them, they can also destroy capitalism.
It wasn’t the first time that Paul was an hack either. He previously wrote Totò Against Hercules. We can only imagine a comedic peplum (Totò, Antonio Gagliardi, was an Italian comedy actor who starred in Totò contro Maciste [Totò against Maciste] in 1962). Contempt’s producer Joseph E. Levine did produce Hercules in 1958 though. He may very well be the target of Godard’s satire. Prokosch is a caricature, obviously: showing him lusting after a nude female swimmer in Fritz Lang’s The Odyssey is a comment on Godard's producer’s insistence to show Brigitte Bardot’s body in the film (Paul:
“cinema is great: we look at women and they wear dresses, they participate in a film, crack, we see their asses.”)
Contempt is full of self-referential and autobiographical details like the one above. Another is Brigitte Bardot wearing a black wig to look like Anna Karina, Godard’s wife. Paul is clearly Godard’s alter ego: wearing a similar hat (as shown in his cameos) and a similar admiration for American films (Camille:
"I prefer you without hat and without cigar.";
"It's to imitate Dean Martin in Some Came Running.")
While being on the terrace of villa Malaparte Camille waves at some point. At whom? The paparazzi who infested the surrounding bushes?...
At the beginning of the film, at Cinecittà Studios in Rome (sold by Prokosch to a chain of malls), we can see film posters of Godard’s own Vivre sa Vie (To Live Her Life) and his favorite films also produced in 1962: Hatari by Howard Hawks, Vanina Vanini by Roberto Rossellini; and 1960: Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock. We may draw two conclusions from this list: 1) not everything that money touches is crap; 2) the Italian film industry wasn’t as dead as it seemed because masterpieces continued to be created.  This means that the reading of the images gives some nuance to an otherwise seemingly boneheaded message.

Camille being trapped between the posters of a film in which men hunt and a film about a sex worker. It's no wonder that she wears a dark color. More about that, later...

In the above image, taken from Godard's La Chinoise (1968)  we are invited to confront vague ideas with clear images. The image is clear enough to me: it shows a bourgeois interior with red furniture. Red being the symbolic color of communism the contradiction is self-evident, but how many viewers do the reading? In a logocentric culture, what's shown to us is automatically hidden.
Being a commercial product directed by an avant-garde director means that Contempt self destructs. Godard even mocks the choice of CinemaScope, a format that, in the words of Fritz Lang:
"Is not suitable for Men. It's suitable for serpents and funerals."
And yet... it allows the most interesting formal device of the film. CinemaScope is the format of epic action movies so something unusual was bound to happen when put in the service of domestic drama. In the central act of this three part play (some may argue that it is the most interesting) Camille and Paul are shown in a maze of walls and doors. (The door without glass that Paul opens to enter a room while returning through the wide opened hole is a Keatonian gag. Ditto Camille absent mindedly passing under a ladder to avoid doing the same on her return when she realized what she had just done.) The couple is shown like mice in a lab experiment, the architectural obstacles between them being symbols of their gradual estrangement. Godard even shows a book about opera and an image of the interior of an opera house to further hint at how ridiculous his producers' ideas of grandeur are (or as an omen of tragedy). In the duly famous conversation between Camille and Paul with the white lamp between them Godard forces the wide format to behave like a more intimate close up framing refusing to do what would be obvious: to show both actors at the same time.
Another great device used by Godard is color. He uses it (especially the clothes' colors) as symbols. We know Godard's attraction for primary colors. In Contempt they're codified as indifference (yellow, but also green), antagonism, communism (red, but also orange), fate, fight, Neptune (blue). All those colors are shown at the beginning of the film (as filters) to contradict the love scene. Or, in a Deleuzian image-time manner to flash-forward what's already written in the
fates' tapestryscript. The living room in Camille and Paul's house has blue chairs, a white lamp and an orange couch (it's almost bleu, blanc, rouge, the French flag; France is viewed as a nation divided). The examples of the use of colors as symbols are too many to cite here: it's in the orange couch that Camille discovers that Paul is a member of the Italian Communist Party. This turns his selling out to capitalism even more unforgivable of course (being Paul Godard's alter ego it's obvious how self-loathing this scene is; ditto Paul using a bath towel to look like a toga in Levine's peplum). On the other hand the Italian Communist Party was an important member of what was called back then eurocommunism, that is, a revisionist mild version of hardcore communism. We may thus read Paul's betrayal as a more profoundly political one. Ditto the singer in orange and red at the theater singing a pop song to the masses around her (24000 baci - 24000 Kisses - by Adriano Celentano with the lyrics detourned to include the word "politics") . In the same sequence Fritz Lang quotes "poor" BB - a pun between Bertolt Brecht's initials and Brigitte Bardot's nickname:
"Every day, to earn my daily bread/ I go to the market where lies are bought/ Hopefully/ I take up my place among the sellers.  [...] Hollywood.")
At the end of the film Prokosch's red Alfa Romeo (Camille:
"get in your Alfa, romeo.")
has an accident against a blue oil (!) truck. Prokosch, Neptune's tool, is dressed in red while Camille, a willing sacrificial victim on the altar of capitalism is dressed in blue. (Fritz Lang:
"Death is not the end."
It isn't because the film has an epilogue.)
This use of color may have influenced John Cassavetes in Opening Night (1977). A film about theater as Contempt is about filming. In it actress Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) fights with a red dress (life and youth) against the forces of aging and decay (black).

 Godard, like Johannes Vermeer frames domestic drama to give us the feeling of peeking some secret that we're not supposed to witness.

 Like Rembrandt Godard uses shadow to a dramatic effect: showing melancholia and distress...

The opening shot ends with Raoul Coutartd's camera pointed at us, the viewers, while a voice over quotes Michel Mourlet (not André Bazin as stated):
"The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in accordance with our desires. Contempt is a story of that world.”
What are these desires, then? The camera asks... Do we want tragedy and catharsis like the old Greeks did in their theater? Or do we want unresolved disturbing truths? Godard's film ends with the death of Camille and Prokosch, victim and tool of an inhuman system. The last sequence being shot in Contempt of the diegetic The Odyssey ends with a victorious Ulysses, as he arrives at his homeland, Ithaca. He is facing the sea (Neptune), to tell him that, against all odds, he fought and beat him. In this story outside a story the
"truth 24 frames per second"
could never do that. (Another cinephile reference in Contempt is Viaggio in Italia - Journey to Italy - 1954 - by Roberto Rossellini, in which a troubled couple finds redemption. The same thing doesn't happen in Contempt, of course.) The last words belong to Jeremy Prokosch and Francesca Vanini, yes, Vanini (Georgia Moll): after being reminded by Paul that Fritz Lang fled Germany because he didn't want to have anything to do with the Nazis, the former simply put it:
"This is not 33, it's 63."
(There's no escape.) Plus: Francesca to Paul:
"You aspire to a world like Homer's, but, unfortunately, that doesn't exist."

Monday, August 6, 2018

Pamplemoussi by Geneviève Castrée

Comics and music may relate in a few ways: musicians and their music may be cited in comics (as seen below); abstract forms and colors, organized in patterns in a comic, may be associated with music as Wassily Kandinsky theorized; comics artists themselves may be musicians (Fort Thunder) linking their two creative activities together like Geneviève Castrée.

Gato Barbieri in Muñoz and Sampayo's first album/graphic novel (seen on the background as Changuitos - boys - jujeños - from Jujuy), Perché lo fai, Alack Sinner? (why do you do it, Alack Sinner?) "Viet Blues" episode, Milano Libri, 1976. Famous Argentinian jazz musician Gato Barbieri is singing the lyrics of El arriero (the muleteer) by Atahualpa Yupanqui ["plights and cows follow the same pathway, plights are ours, cows are someone else's." By citing Barbieri citing Yupanqui Muñoz and Sampayo make a clear left-wing political statement. You can hear Barbieri playing and singing, here (5.20)].

Since her almost wordless beginnings in 2000 with Lait frappé (milk-shake - L'Oie de Cravan) and Die Fabrik (the factory - Reprodukt) that Geneviève Castrée showed little inclination towards the orthodox storytelling so prevalent in the comics industry. Her comics are dreamlike, mysterious, symbolic, barely narrative.

 Geneviève Castrée, Lait frappé, L' Oie de Cravan, 2000.

Geneviève Castrée, Die Fabrik, Reprodukt, May 2002.

After publishing her third book (Roulathèque Roulathèque Nicolore, L'Oie de Cravan, 2001), Geneviève Castrée published Pamplemoussi (grapefruit). Here's what she has to say about it:
I wanted to make a book with a record for years. One day I was looking out the window of my studio and I decided to start writing songs for the stories. It took me a lot more time than I was used to and when it came out I went on tour for a few months. I never had enough copies and there are none left. It was published in 2004 by L'Oie de Cravan.
Pamplemoussi is a large square book (obviously, it has the form and size of the vinyl LP record that comes with it - or is it the other way around?). Just for a taste, and because that's what I found on You Tube, here's one of the songs:

Geneviève Castrée, "Chanson pour les guêpes," Pamplemoussi, L'Oie de Cravan, 2004.

Geneviève's drawing style could be part of a long tradition of children's books illustration, but, if we read between the lines, her comics are about abusive relationships, depression, solipsism, etc... In other words, they're not unlike all good children's books, of course... In Lait frappé, for instance, a series of episodes with titles in Russian (god knows why!?) describe a journey from low self-esteem and self-hate to the desire of changing people (anonymous black cats) in order to suit them for our purposes (as seen in a dream in which Geneviève portrays herself as an evil sorceress transforming black cats into white milk in order to drink it) to a relationship with a self-defensive abusive cat (she tries to drink from a milk bottle with a broken neck that she finds on the street just to cut her lip). All this told in clever visual figures of speech in 27 pages only. No doubt about it: Lait frappé is a little comics masterpiece that deserves to be reprinted increasing its original print run of 350.

 Geneviève Castrée, "The Fire In Mr. Pea," Kramers Ergot # 4, Avodah Books, 2003.

Geneviève Castrée (signing as Geneviève Elverum - her husband's last name), cover for Drawn & Quarterly Showcase # 3, July 2005. The cover alludes to "We're Wolf," another great improv about awkward relationships in a beautifully illustrated story inspired by Hergé's Tintin in Tibet

Geneviève Castrée, Susceptible, Drawn & Quarterly, 2012. Geneviève's more recent book. 
Pamplemoussi explores the same themes already mentioned above, but the relations between the song lyrics, the (minimal) music, the incantatory tone and the symbolic drawings are even more allusive and elusive. There's a song about feeling uncomfortable in one's body ("Chanson pour la géante" - "Song for the girl giant" [sic]) and another one for vanquishing one's fears ("Chanson pour les guêpes" - "Song for the wasps" - listen above) and yet another one about how limited we are in the little boxes of our minds; how we futilely dream of escaping ("Chanson pour la hase" - "Song for the hare"). Since solipsism is so important in Geneviève's work, I'll let you with the part of this last song's lyrics in English (as translated in Pamplemoussi) which explains why there's no escape. I'll let you also with another song by Geneviève Castrée... just because I like it this time...
some animals dream/ of countries, of planets and stars/ of which they only know details;/ adopted and spied from conversations/ they were not part of/ it is to wonder/ if they know that in other countries/ people are just as mean/ on a different planet/ you suffocate/ and before reaching the stars/ you burn/

 Woelv [Geneviève Castrée], "Gris", from the album Gris, P. W. Elverum and Sun Ltd., 2006.