Inside 'Boundless' by Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki's lastest for Drawn and Quarterly is a tome of the relatable absurd. Beautiful moments of minimal full-page storytelling interspersed with musings on technology, mythology, relationships, Boundless is full of pure imagination.
The Boundless title quite accurately fits the collection with Tamaki giving herself the freedom to explore not only varying narratives but adapting art style page by page to fit each section of the book as she sees fit. The opening story World Class City disorients the reader, forcing them to spin the book to read vertical words and accurately see the gorgeous full page spreads featuring lizard people, candlelit vigils and other solemn images that are hard to tie to the poetic narrative. Tamaki leaves a lot to the readers in these vertical diversions throughout the collection, leaving them to pay closer attention to the detailed images, to pull their own meanings from the words she lays beside them. Other stories in the collection have crystal clear narratives, leaving you only to wonder how in the world she came up with such ideas. Body Pods (pictured above) is a study of the character's past relationships, all in relation to her partner's obsessions with a dull sci-fi film from the 1990's. The successes and failures of the relationships juxtaposed with the life and lives of the washed up actors features panels capture a significant amount of emotion for characters who you know very little about and have little to grasp onto over the short length of the story, speaking to the idea of how confusing it is to latch on emotionally to fandoms and nostalgic feelings from your youth.
Half-Life (pictured above) is an enveloping story spanning the characters realization that she is shrinking. Beginning with noticing clothes sagging and the personal interactions questioning what the problem may be, the story descends farther and farther, forcing the character to come to terms with a life where she cannot do daily activities for herself due to her size and the solemn truth that she soon may disappear altogether.
The longest story in the collection is the sci-fi leaning Sex Coven, beginning as a retelling of an internet-started urban legend which slowly glides further down the rabbit hole. The origins of the Sex Coven audio file begin humbly with a high-schooler retitling a six-hour ambient music track, but people begin using the song as a rite of passage soundtrack to dangerous teenage adventures, leading the myth to grow and even have a secret society trying to analyze the secrets and power of those intrigued by the audio file.
Tamaki's career thus far in comics and illustrations has always been impressive, but Boundless is an even bigger step forward - Tamaki's voice is spellbinding and pulls you in; each panel, character and story pulling you in new and exciting directions.
Boundless is available now via Drawn and Quarterly.