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In his Eisner Award winning breakthrough Nate Powell uietly explores the dark corners of adolescence the countless tiny moments of madness the vague relief of medication and mixed blessing of family ties Swallow Me Whole is a love story carried by rolling fog terminal illness hallucination apophenia insect armies secrets held unshakeable faith and the sear. It s almost cliche at this point to praise Nate Powell s Swallow Me Whole but it s not like there s any honest alternative The book is just too good for anything else Talented illustrator Check Talented storyteller Check Imaginative Funny Insightful Worthwhile All systems are go Powell s art reminds me of some delicate hybrid between Craig Thompson and David Lapham and amusingly Swallow Me Whole is like some strange cross pollination between Blankets and SilverfishOkay well not really But kindaBy the evidence of prior works Epileptic and It s a Bird come to mind the comics medium seems uniuely suitable to the exploration of mental deviation slash illness Swallow Me Whole far from dispelling this sense of things works to cement the place of comics as a vessel through which the well might come to better understand the unwell My experience with those suffering under the fist of schizophrenia is limited to a relative I ll never know so I can t speak very well to the accuracies of Powell s depiction but to say that it isn t so far from the stories I ve been told by my relatives who survived the terror and oppression this one errant family member brought into the family by her delusionsOften these illnesses are portrayed from the outside from the viewpoint of a uote unuote neutral observer Powell gets to the heart of things by giving us two protagonists Ruth and Perry one medicated and one not who labour under the grip of delusions they recognize to be delusions but have no recourse but to answer to their illusions What s better is that we are allowed to experience their hallucinations somewhat as they experience them Ruth s delusions are intrusive and she embraces them with less hesitation but Perry s can be no less intrusive and no less compulsive Where Swallow Me Whole s real strength lies is in the fact that Ruth and Perry talk openly between themselves about the trials of their own branded delusions Powell goes to pains to give breadth of soul to other family members despite offering them strictly limited screentime but the real focus is Ruth and Perry Even though neither has any experience of each other s hallucinations Ruth s feature ambassador s from the insect kingdom and reuire a shrine of physical corpses while Perry s involve a diminutive wizard who resides primarily on the end of his pencil and forces him on drawing missions they speak to each other with love and understanding Even as the difficulties of their lives threaten to destroy them and their family the have each other to hold onto and it seems only by their bond that they ve survived as long as they have These are two deeply involving and sympathetic characters who carry the book on the shoulders of their interactions with each otherThe book s conclusion is going to be the sticking point for most readers either confusing them into distrusting the book or elevating it to a work of grand accomplishment I fall into the latter of the two artificially constructed catchall bins There are I think two valid interpretations for the finale both of which are powerful and amazing I m not sure which reading I prefer each has its merits but in the final analysis each shows the horrible power of this kind of disease and how acts of coping on one s part can destroy the lives of others The climax is amazing and whether taken literally or figuratively demonstrates well Powell s grasp of the material Great stuff

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Swallow Me Whole

Her amidst schizophrenia obsessive compulsive disorder family breakdown animal telepathy misguided love and the tiniest hope that everything will someday make senseDeliberately paced delicately drawn and drenched in shadows Swallow Me Whole is a landmark achievement for Nate Powell and a suburban ghost story that will haunt readers long after its final pag. I expected Swallow Me Whole to be a sweet melancholy story of adolescence I was unprepared for how disturbing and sad it is I was also disturbed to get partway into the book and realize that the awesomely cute character Powell had drawn in my signed copy was actually an anthropomorphic pillThere are a lot of pills in Swallow Me Whole The story centers around siblings Ruth and Perry who each have their hidden adolescent demons which manifest in different ways Perry draws and Ruth obsesses over insects They live with their parents and fading grandmother Powell draws an incredibly sympathetic portrait of the grandmother switching between the elderly woman others perceive and the young woman she sees herself as I don t know that I have ever seen a kinder treatment of the elderly in fiction despite her physical and mental infirmities Powell should be commended for how artfully he handles such difficult topics This is a heavy book and while I expected the graphical nature to lessen the impact it does not I think this could easily be a great short story but as a graphic novel it is immensely powerful It is amazing how much loneliness fright and sadness Powell is able to capture with just ink and paper

Nate Powell ✓ 4 review

Ch for a master pattern to make sense of one's unravelingIn his most ambitious book to date Nate Powell uietly explores the dark corners of adolescence not the clichd melodramatic outbursts of rebellion but the countless tiny moments of madness the vague relief of medication and mixed blessing of family ties As the story unfolds two stepsiblings hold toget. Damnit I just wrote a long ass review and the goddamn internet ate it up and shit it out in some unknowable aether FuckersWhateverThe review was good but now you re just going to have to trust me on that because there s no way in fucking hell I m re typing itAnyway I ve been following Nate Powell since I found his punk inspired minis and he was and is one of the best draftsmen in comics today That said he often spirals off into doodle y dream narratives with tons of boring to read experimentations He was and is great at straight forward narratives but seems to be bored by them In this book he sublimates his love for experimentation with a solid story about a young girl in a family who seem to be predisposed to schizophrenia It s powerful stuff circumventing the tired coming of age bullshit with unreliable narrators an obsession with death and a sick and dying grandmother and an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy that is punctuated with freuent flights of fantasy which are sometimes whimsical but often frightening and portent of doom The narrative proceeds in fits and bursts and often follows an odd logic which cumulates with a tour de force ending which might be metaphorical might be from the POV of an unreliable narrator or might be an intrusion of the unreal upon reality Whatever it is it works and is a hell of a way for Powell to combine his love and his strength as a cartoonist


10 thoughts on “Swallow Me Whole

  1. says:

    Revision of review 4917Powell worked for several years with young people with developmental disabilities something I also did for a shorter time He also ran a punk record label and performed in several bands and oh yeah does these amazing detailed graphic novels and stories including the series that took him a

  2. says:

    It's almost cliche at this point to praise Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole but it's not like there's any honest alternative The book is just too good for anything else Talented illustrator? Check Talented storyteller? Check Imaginative? Funny? Insightful? Worthwhile? All systems are go Powell's art reminds me of

  3. says:

    I stumbled across this my first graphic novel the other night This book is about two siblings both suffering from mental illness hallucinations obsessive behaviour schizophrenia perhaps There is a touch of young love thrown in and a family struggling with these health issues and the normal pressures of family life not least of which involv

  4. says:

    Damnit I just wrote a long ass review and the goddamn internet ate it up and shit it out in some unknowable aether FuckersWhateverThe review was good but now you're just going to have to trust me on that because there's no way in fucking hell I'm re typing itAnyway I've been following Nate Powell since I found his punk inspired m

  5. says:

    This book is deep and difficult for me to write about as I'm not sure I got the whole thing I'll make an attempt a

  6. says:

    There seemed to be way too much happening in this graphic narrative So many threads knotted up in a tangled mess Some speech balloons were in the tiniest script— once I started skipping them I should have just packed it in This book is probably well done but was just not for me and my struggling eyesight

  7. says:

    I expected Swallow Me Whole to be a sweet melancholy story of adolescence I was unprepared for how disturbing and sad it is I was also disturbed to get partway into the book and realize that the awesomely cute character Powell had drawn in my signed copy was actually an anthropomorphic pillThere are a lot of pills in Swallow Me Whole The stor

  8. says:

    I didn't like this book It was really confusing and hard to follow partially because the characters were not introduced in a clear way in the

  9. says:

    I had such high hopes for a longer comic by Nate Powell but this book really fell short of my expectations A lot of the story was hard to follow which may have been somewhat intentional since the story deals with schizophrenia but unfortunately that doesn't make it any less difficult to understand If he had done a better job moving between external narrator and character experience I would have had tolerance for some of the confusion For ex

  10. says:

    This is another work of Powell's I've had for awhile but I've just been lax in getting to it And shame on me for waiting as this is t

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