Posted by on October 1st, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Gone recounts the story of a troubled young woman, writing a children’s book. Little Fox and Bear meet at a fixed place in the parc, at a bench, and asking questions and telling stories to eachother. Slowly but surely though it becomes apparent that the childrens’ stories – each short tale is one page – are being used by the woman to create clarity in her own disquiet life.

Opening Gone , you see a sequential close up of a hand writing, consequently rubbing out the first letters to start anew. Here is the complete theme of the book that comprises the entire book wrapped in sequential imagery on one page. And you just know you are in for a treat. You leaf through to the next page, suddenly words and images part, each contained in its own separate page and you ask yourself: What is going on here? Is this a comic? Is it an illustrated book? Does it really matter?

Almost every spread in the book is one page text and one page drawings. Text is provided by Pieter van Oudheusden who is a writer having done theater, comics, journalism and short stories. Ephameron is the artist and is an accomplished illustrator whose numerous skills involve tape installations, magazine illustrations, artzines, international exhibitions etc and now sequential illustration in her first graphic novel.

I must admit that I have seldom seen a graphic novel where text and image are so different from each other yet so poignantly in synch. On one hand, the text is all about Little Fox and Bear and on the other the images form a camera that follows the woman in her meanderings and work. The delicate linework of Ephameron perfectly mirrors the intimate and philosophical conversations Bear and Little Fox undertake while the collage style and scratchy colouring illustrates beautifully the relational undercurrent of the text. If I have one small regret it is that the lettering is a computer font (1) while hand lettering (by Ephameron herself?) would have been perfect and more inline with the feel of the graphic novel.

A door slightly ajar, a hand on a dirty window, empty staircases, lonely hallways and abandoned streets;  sweet stories about wanting-to-be, animal sounds that you can do best, dreams, coats and nights. Every line and word has a subtext that is perfectly epitomized in each other. Slowly the text builds to a crescendo leading to a layered view of the sequentials. It’s hard to go into detail because it is all so subtle and beneath the surface. Suffice it to say that the tale of Little Bear and Fox leads to a wonderfully dubious ending where the reader is forced to participate in creating his own tale coloured by his own experiences.

And while the orginal Dutch title Weg loses something in the translation – being simultaneously ‘road’ and ‘gone’ -it is an apt description of the tale(s) told in the cbook. Gone is a magnificently little poignant book that walks a road somewhere between magical realism and relational drama. It is a book that challenges, that gets you thinking and that shines a new light on the world we walk in and the relations that comprise that world.

Gone is a 48  page full colour graphic novel. It is published by Bries and is available at their website for € 16,50.

(1) Addendum I have since been informed by Ephameron that the computer font is generated from her own handwriting.

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