Graphic Novel Review: Familiar Face by Michael Deforge

Familiar Face by Michael Deforge. Drawn & Quarterly, 2020. 9781770463875. 176pp.

The people and the city in Deforge’s latest graphic novel are continually optimized and updated, without warning and seemingly at random. It’s all supposed to be an improvement (but it’s clearly not); the new body you wake up in may not be intuitive, and the street you’re driving on may suddenly have no exit.

The narrator is struggling because of her job in the complaints department. (The complaints are shown in triangular panels, in black and white, and some information is redacted.) She can’t discuss the complaints with the woman she’s in a relationship with, Jessica, who also can’t tell her about her own work in the city’s maps department. And then one day Jessica is gone from the apartment they share.

This is a very lonely book. The anthropomorphic search engine is the friendliest thing about it, and the complaints are the most amusing. But they’re not amusing the narrator, who longs for the love of her life. Deforge’s weird, semi- and completely abstract art really works here with a viewpoint character trying to make sense of such a shifting, confusing cityscape in which people are hard to distinguish from furnishings and whatever is on the street.


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