Graphic Novel Review: One Story by Gipi

One Story by Gipi. Translated by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, 2020. 9781683963196. 128pp.

Writer Silvano Landi is in a hospital, remembering. He’s thinking of a young man suddenly seeing himself as an old man of his own age, and how that would drive him crazy. Landi might have been found by the sea where he was talking to himself. Or was he wandering the streets of a city naked maybe?

Those trying to treat him discuss his drawings of a service station, and a bare tree. He’s heavily medicated. His dosage is increased, but that doesn’t bring him back to reality.

A man in a trench, about to go over onto the battlefield beyond, writes a letter to the love of his life. As he and his companion cross no man’s land, other soldiers think they’re dead already. They head for the bare tree in the distance and face a machine gun.

Is it the tree in Landi’s head? Who was the soldier to him? How did the story destroy Landi’s life?

Gipi (Notes from A War Story, Land of the Sons) uses watercolors and plain, black and white drawings to create a landscape of times and places, real and imagined, that allow us to experience Landi’s break with reality. This is a very compelling story, and a beautiful, literary graphic novel.


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