Anti-Gone by connor willumsen. Koyama Press, 2017. 9781927668511.
The striking thing about this book is the paper most of it is printed on, a plastic-y, smooth paper that’s a bit more translucent than average, a modern version of onionskin tracing paper. It just feels good in your hand. And it makes or maybe helps the lines of much of willumsen’s art (at least when the background isn’t grey) look a little undefined, as if they were drawn in a soft pencil. The effect is mesmerizing, especially on pages with lots of white space.
The story, well, it’s weird. A man and a woman in a sailboat visit a deserted island. When they leave they’re approached by a little cartoony guy on a waterbike (his look recalls the black spy, and is different from other characters) who tries to sell the man some DVDs and gives the couple some movie tickets. Then they visit a city that’s mostly underwater to see a movie. The woman becomes attached to a cartoony alligator/lizard that she adopts as a pet. She and her boyfriend see a movie.
Strangenesses in the book: When they try to have sex on the beach, a little frog (and other animals) totally watch. A person tries to sell them drugs to make their movie experience better, including one that makes the man forget he’s seen a film before, and another that makes the woman feel like she’s having a near-death experience. The riot on the boardwalk outside the theater. The movie they watch, The Readers. The ending.
It’s a bit of a WTF book, but it’s totally compelling somehow, both to your eyes and your fingers. Feel that paper!