Strange Natives: The Forgotten Memories of a Forgetful Old Woman was my one purchase at the recent Summer Komikon. My friend Jerico Marte is the artist for the book, and I got it as a show of support for his talent. What I wasn't ready for was how ambitious the book is.
Paolo Herras penned this tale that takes us through time, from the age of illustrados through the modern, seen through the eyes of an old woman named Grasya, who's running from a past too painful to remember.
Butterflies are a recurring theme throughout the book, which Herras uses as a metaphor for memories to great effect. Small, fleeting, harmless, memories may flutter by but may swarm and engulf us if we let it. The book transitions from the present to the past plenty and often, as the old lady is swept through her own memories and forcing us to confront them with her, which is a nice touch. It's a tough read through sometimes, as Herras sometimes digs too deep into his metaphors, but when he gets it right, the story becomes an enthralling, interesting read. There is a lot of tragedy here, a lot of painful loss...but there's also a bit of hope, and a warning of the consequences should we forget the mistakes of the past.
Jerico Marte marks his full-length comic book debut in Strange Natives, and he's firing on all cylinders. Every page is a labor (emphasis on labor) of love. Marte draws the hell out of this book, with a style that's reminiscent of vintage Aeon Flux. Herras' characters take on an otherworldly, almost dream-like feel under Marte's pencils, which is a perfect fit for the story. I have watched Jerico's art evolve through the years, and I can safely say we haven't seen him at his full potential. I can't wait to see what more he has to offer.
Strange Natives: The Forgotten Memories of a Forgetful Old Woman is a book you don't pick up on a whim. This strange, supernatural story needs you to be open for anything, to learn how to take the past and keep it close so yesterday's pain won't ruin your future.