Written and Drawn by Danica Novgorodoff
First Second, 176 pages, $17.95 US
Slow Storm is the story of a modest young woman yearning for more from life. From this starting point, Danica Novgorodoff goes about fashioning a graphic novel that reads like an expression of a dream, complete with uneven pacing and leaps in dramatic storytelling, which is actually what gives it its vitality.
As the dark skies grow more menacing over the Kentucky hinterland during tornado season, Ursa Crain, a female firefighter, finds herself in a fire truck with a crew answering a call. Just prior to this scene, we’ve been introduced to the struggles of Rafi, a Mexican illegal immigrant. As if through telepathy, Ursa begins to muse and speak lyrically about what it would be like to have to leave behind your country and all that you knew. Completely out of left field, she goes on: “Do you think then – if you couldn’t ever see this countryside again – then would you remember driving through Oldham County like it was some kinda…like a…beautiful fantasy?” Pretty trippy stuff. Well, it works fine with me. Welcome to Danica Novgorodoff’s world and feel free to dream along.
I say read this more like you would poetry or something on the unconventional side. There are fantasies within fantasies to be found here. One of the most interesting is when it appears that Ursa has intentionally trapped her brother in a raging fire and assured his death. This is all played out in a very deadpan way leaving you to wonder what exactly happened.
Both Ursa and Rafi, from the first time they meet to their only moment of intimacy when their hands touch, remain totally deadpan cool. No one ever expresses anything in this book with just a facial expression. That’s not what you need in a book like Slow Storm.