So as you know I had already read it but I cracked the new Zoe Thorogood up for a reread while on a flight to Thailand expecting to give it a deeper dive and really unearth more in terms of influences and just thematic elements and what I found was I just got locked into the vibe and ride again.
Also, Zoe is younger than I am, and for the first time, and this doesn’t happen as much when reviewing prose, what she’s taking from, what inspires her, feels out of purview right now. At best I may be able to sense the influence of her influences but instead of struggling with that aspect I was swept back up with cartooning and story and very much enjoying a sense of this is now. I felt similarly when I read Gabrielle Zevin’s novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow recently. I’m going to write about it later and many of my thoughts on it exist in unison with my personal experience and maybe even a shift with reading Zoe comics. It’s exciting because for years now I feel like I’ve been reading novels and comics (and watching film and TV) armed with the knowledge of what those creators are inspired by, what they want to homage, why they chose this needle drop or where they took this silhouette idea from and its rather refreshing just going in blind. There is true discovery again.
Intensely personal yet still oddly epic, I still think with It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth Zoe Thorogood has delivered to this world the best comic of 2022.
Semi-autobiographical work over six months of Zoe’s life made into a genre gestalt. It’s a work of an honest fabulist, of escapes, of salvation through art, and drawn with flurries of a cartoonist who might be a master in all but age.
Awhile reading this the thought that kept booming in my head was Zoe Thorogood is beautiful as fuck. This is special.
There are contradictions in the way there always is when self-reflecting which is fitting because this comic is itself an odd contradiction in that usually book or comics like this are often well done and crafted, by their nature always personal, but are often boring to anyone who isn’t some simp of the person the book is about. Zoe is relatively a new cartoonist. It isn’t Otomo sharing himself, someone who has had the time in the game and the hits to assume people would care but it doesn’t matter because for being the downer that it is intended at times, this comic is a ride, Zoe’s art is engaging, and toward the end, there is a photo that makes me feel for her. It’s a vibe. It could be the cover of some post-Reality Bites 90s album. Hell, maybe Japanese Breakfast will use it now.
Things I thought about while reading It’s Lonely at the Centre of Earth: include Totoro, King City, The Love We Share Without Knowing, a mixture of Inio Asano works, and Lost in Translation.
For the last couple of years, I have been working on a concept with both comics and prose of a top 100 shelf. I have multiple homes and large off-site storage to boot so I don’t have space issues but the idea of being able to boil down and curate a top 100 shelf that represents me the best started to appeal to me.
For comics, I began with already my #1 and #100 bookends in mind. On one end I’d have The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and on the other end, I’d have the wonderful adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli.
With It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth Zoe Thorogood just got on the shelf.
I also wanted to add I got a personalized copy from Zoe which she did a quick sketch in.
I have original art from Zoe too and hope to add more when Cadence stops being cowards and release da art!