Cecil And Jordan In New York
Drawn & Quarterly
These are curious tales, with unassuming beginnings and curious endings. They gather the fleeting, everyday experiences whose gradual accumulation comes to define our lives. Dilemmas are rarely obvious, or simple: Bell crafts subtle, complex stories.
Bell tweaks her artistic style in keeping with the mood of each story, though she always draws with a light, understated touch, lending her stories an intimacy and sense of melancholy. The opening panels are rich in colour, elsewhere her lines grow thin and hesitant. In a story about teenage loneliness, we observe the characters from a distance.
The occasional absurdist touch lends a further playfulness to the book, especially in the opening story: we are encouraged to suspend our expectations when the main character quite matter-of-factly turns herself into a chair. In a later story Bell indulges in dream-like surrealism, though there it seems to lack intention, and the story lacks direction.
Bell flirts dangerously with this tendency, mostly emerging unscathed. Many of the stories lack direction, or indeed resolution, but in the end they are strangely satisfying. We are moved, without knowing why. Bell’s narratives may wander, but at least she is leading us. mRb