Indoor Voice

Indoor Voice

By Lori Callaghan

A review of Indoor Voice by Jillian Tamaki

Published on October 5, 2010

Indoor Voice
Jillian Tamaki

Drawn and Quarterly
$11.97
paper
96pp
978-1-770460-14-0

Hirsute women and a disdain for city life permeate the pages of Jillian Tamaki’s Indoor Voice. This comic scrapbook is so varied and disjointed at times that it feels like the artist took out a drawer full of random doodles, dumped them on the desk and made a book out of them. You can, however, learn a lot about a person by examining the images and words they casually put to paper, the bits of themselves that just seem to fall out.

In Indoor Voice, for instance, there is a palpable tension between the city life Tamaki obviously feels trapped in and the communion with nature she romanticizes. A series of four-panel comic strips dubbed “Brooklyn Follies” shows such things as a woman complaining to a bus driver about someone jerking off, a guy sleeping on a bench who wakes to take a leak on a fence, and a guide to understanding the honks of NYC cars. In the author’s notes, Tamaki says that it took her three years to get comfortable living in New York City. “Now when I see people behaving badly in public, as New Yorkers are wont to do, I proclaim loudly, ‘Aww, Jersus, Cawmonn!’ instead of going home and crying.”

The image of a strong older woman, often naked and hairy, who is aligned with the natural rhythms of the world, comes up numerous times. She is a stoic figure who is untouched by the anxieties of metropolitan life. These and the wildlife drawings seem to have a serene quality that juxtaposes keenly with the anger and frustration found in the urban illustrations.

This collection is an awkward introduction to an artist, but it shows a fair amount of range and has personality. It’s a snapshot look at an artist’s process; one that sparks an interest to see what her more refined, finished products look like. mRb

Lori Callaghan is an arts critic in Montreal whose work has been published in the Montreal Gazette and The Rover.

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