Boundless, by Jillian Tamaki

I have to admit I was entirely unfamiliar with Jillian Tamaki going into this, but I love love love her illustration work here, and I want to thank Drawn & Quarterly for sending me a copy of this. I’m also a big fan of the way that the narration jumps around sometimes “documentary style” in these stories. Most of them are slice-of-life focused, kafkaesque, or modern fantasy, which are all genres I think graphic novels are particularly well-suited for. I’ve written about this previously in reviews of other comic/graphic stories, and it’s still rings true here.

Jillian TamakiEvery story collection is going to be a little uneven to some degree, but most of these stories are solid, with just a couple that didn’t quite land for me. The artwork is always something to behold, and the characters feel three-dimensional and genuine.

‘SexCoven’ is a definite standout; it alone makes this collection worth reading. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m around the same age as the author, but I feel like this story perfectly captures the late 90s / early 00s internet culture of niche communities and the ways that they almost universally disbanded in the mid 00s. I probably spent around 6 solid months on message boards dedicated to The Matrix when I was around 20 (please don’t judge me, I thought it was cool as fuck back then). A couple years later and all of those boards are just… gone.

It seems like almost every message board or little niche community has been replaced by a subreddit these days, and that brings a whole other subset of problems along with it. Instead of communities of likeminded internet individuals coming together over some obscure cultural element, we have a subset of the already monoculture-prone redditors coming together over some obscure element of culture. It’s a slice of a slice of what it once was, and way more confirmation-bias enabling. I really do feel like we’ve lost something.

I also particularly liked the story dealing with adultery/bedbug removal, and the one with the shrinking woman. There were so many cool things to read between the lines in all of these. I’ll definitely be checking her other work out.