Monday, September 2, 2013

Heads or Tails: Stories by Lilli Carre

Heads or Tails is a collection of whimsical stories by comics artist Lilli Carre. These surreal tales have few words and seem to come straight out of fever dreams. Under the hot streets of a city, people swim in pools of their own sweat. A woman splits into two selves. "There's a very small town where the people spend their days picking the moss off hollow logs." 

'My New Look' has only four panels and it is one of my favourites. A woman is convinced that her cups are insulting her, calling her a fatso and an old bag, so eventually she breaks them all. "I started drinking out of my hat." "Impractical, sure, but a much better life." The hat says, "Lookin' good, cowpoke."

In 'The Flip,' two women get more and more absurd as they prepare to flip a coin in a game of Heads or Tails. 
"If it's heads: the sound of my voice will make men, rabbits and lions stop in their tracks."
"If it's tails, you'll make me forget every embarrassing and nasty moment I've ever had."
"Heads: the world will fit in the palm of my hand." 
"Tails: I will live one day as a dandelion puff."
The coin goes up... but doesn't come down. Several stories and more than 50 pages later, Carre reprises the story. The coin falls... and we witness the winning wager. Okay, maybe this one is my favourite. 

It is hard to choose, because each bizarre story is perfectly brilliant. Just like the guy with a gemstone for a head (after he asked a witch for lasting beauty).

In Carre's stylized art, nonchalant heads without bodies lie around like Brancusi sculptures. Elaborate decorations gradually encroach on a king's space. A curly green cloud of vegetation emerges from between a woman's teeth after a meal. Check out Carre's website to see her astonishing work.

Readalikes: The Principles of Uncertainty (Maira Kalman); Tales from Outer Suburbia (Shaun Tan); Ojingogo (Matthew Forsythe); and, without pictures: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door (Etgar Keret).

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