Images © Bryan Talbot & Mary Talbot.
The latest book from Bryan Talbot is a collaboration with his wife Mary, and it’s a biographical work. Two, actually, as there are two narratives intertwined. One follows the life of Mary herself from early childhood through marriage to Bryan and beyond, but focusing on Mary’s relationship with her father, a teacher and James Joyce scholar. The other thread follows the life of Lucia Joyce, daughter of the famous writer and HER paternal relationship. Both are complex, but Lucia certainly seems to have had a much worse time of it, trying desperately to forge a career for herself outside her family circle, but always being sucked back into an abusive relationship with both parents. Mary had her own struggles, but in a time when independence was more accepted.Both tales are well told, and the intercutting makes a somewhat tenuous connection come together in ways that only good comics can achieve, and this is certainly that.
Bryan’s art is charming and the two story threads are each given a color scheme: sepia for Mary and indigo for Lucia, with occasional full-color interludes or moments inside each part. The style is somewhat cartoony, particularly in the use of dots for eyes in many places (appropriately), though the art is realistic enough to give the reader a sense of historical time and place, and the characters are quite lifelike in general.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the title, but I knew I’d be in good hands with Bryan, and Mary’s writing is also quite good, making this an enjoyable read from start to finish. Recommended.