Comics Time: The Lagoon


The Lagoon

Lilli Carre, writer/artist

Fantagraphics, 2008



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I’m grateful for books like The Lagoon, where things happen without neat resonances with other things that happened, where you can’t always locate the part within the whole. The Lagoon is a horror story, if a low-key one; like much of the best horror it makes the connection between horror and the absurd. Whether you’re talking about a giant gorilla climbing the Empire State Building or a puzzle box that unleashes S&M demons, horror’s iconic images frequently boast a lack of inherent logic that rivals that of video games. Carre gently (and I do mean gently–don’t expect the surrealist nightmares of Tom Neely or Josh Simmons here) applies this throughout her story. The characters don’t appear to know where the creature who lurks in the titular waters came from or why it does the weird thing it does, and neither do we. Nor are we presented enough information to determine the true nature of the creature’s relationship with one member of the family at the center of the story. The context provided points to something illicit, but perhaps that’s just the lingering effect of the story’s eroticized, somnambulist qualities–so much takes place at night, in bedrooms, in still waters, against thick and sticky blacks…and heck, one character is an actual somnambulist. And finally, the story’s coda (more like its final third) doesn’t appear to directly address the preceding events in the way we’d expect. Carre’s sinuous, snaking treatment of sound provides a through-line; there are windows that get opened and shut and lied about; the characters are of course the same; but it still feels disconnected in ways that few writers today are gutsy enough to attempt. The overall effect is like Clive Barker fed through a twee filter. This’ll stick to you.

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2 Responses to Comics Time: The Lagoon

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to rub salt in recent wounds (I feel you) but she also draws the absolute most elegant cartoon cats in this I’ve seen in ages. Thought it needed to be said.

  2. MarkAndrew says:

    Didn’t do much sticking with me, actually.

    I just said “Shit, I didn’t understand that AT ALL” and went on with my life.

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