For my latest column at The Comics Journal, I take a closer look at Posy Simmonds’ latest comic, Cassandra Darke, which is a slow-burn masterpiece in paraphrase of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and in the process I have some more general thoughts on her art. Here’s an excerpt:
It is in this characterization of privileged life unsettled that Simmondsâ€”ever concerned with the complexities of social relations and middle-class anxietyâ€”delivers her starkest indictment to date of contemporary society. Mind you, with her trademark British understatement which ensures that satire never subverts story. Her masterful use of crayon and wash technique brings to life a posh London under snow, with its darkened windows, gated garden squares and gleaming lobbies. Her work was an exquisite, unostentatious a sense of place which rivals that of Jacques Tardi. And when Cassandra finally decides to take action and ventures into the ‘far east’ of London, Simmonds evokes a boarded-up high streetâ€”perhaps in Dagenhamâ€”of pound shops, off licenses and pawnbrokers in a short burst of dense panels, while contrapuntally noting in the voiceover “in spite of its decay, [it] has Christmas lights and bursts of laughter coming from pub doors.” In the space of a few pages she has skipped sideways from A Christmas Carol to A Tale of Two Cities.
Read the whole thing here, and stop by Cynthia Rose’s in-depth reportage from the Pulp festival, which took place a few weeks ago just outside Paris and featured Simmonds, as well as Catherine Meurisse.