Instead of battering herself into a semblance of normality, Ruth has decided it is better to be insane. She thinks about patterns and strives to arrange her bug collection in perfect order. It seems the only people she can relate to are family members who are also insane. Nate Powell constructs this mental derangement in Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf, $19.95) by juxtaposing creepy hallucinations in a finely drafted suburban landscape. A deeply moving and powerful tale.
Israeli writer and artist Rutu Modan, author of the darkly beautiful Exit Wounds, is back with Jamilti & Other Stories (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95), a compilation of seven short works from 1998 to 2007. There is great variety in the writing, from a dark fairy tale to unique Israeli stories. The pieces show how Modan’s artwork has evolved from her delicate pencil and ink work to a more detailed Hergé-type clean-line technique.
Writer Marguerite Abouet and illustrator Clément Oubrerie give us light-hearted stories set in Abidjan during a prosperous “golden era” of the Ivory Coast in the late ’70s. In Aya (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95), we are introduced to the title character and her friends, Bintou and Adjoua. The three are caught up in teenage romances; their stern parents, and smooth-talking suitors are very much on the scene. Aya Of Yop City (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95) continues the girls’ stories (and solves some mysteries). Abouet’s narratives are charming, but we also witness an insider’s take on the family, class, and village tensions. Oubrerie’s authentically-detailed color drawings are done with a light touch.