Bizarre Romance

Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) once said that her book The Three Incestuous Sisters is a "novel in pictures" rather than a graphic novel. The 13 stories contained in Bizarre Romance are just that--oddly whimsical, mildly titillating and sometimes poignant tales in pictures. Co-authored and illustrated by Niffenegger's husband, Eddie Campbell (From Hell), the collection considers the wonders and horrors, banality and mystery of love and relationships in all their manifestations--romance, family, friendship and the metaphysical.

Some of the pieces are goofy. In "The Ruin of Grant Lowery," a man ends up in indentured servitude to an ocelot-juggling fairy, and in "Jakob Wywialowski and the Angels," angels are exterminated by flame-wielding pest control experts. What shines as the most memorable are the longer prose pieces--the hauntingly wistful Hurricane Katrina love letter in "Girl on a Roof"; the isolation of success and the desire to connect in "Secret Life, with Cats"; Niffenegger's thought-provoking meditation on religion and art in "The Church of the Funnies."

Campbell lightly illustrates longer prose pieces with simple pen-and-ink sketches. On more comics-driven stories, he uses a more contemporary style. Photographic play on "Motion Studies: Getting Out of Bed" especially stands out.

Perhaps the artistic vision expressed in "The Church of the Funnies" explains the manner in which Niffenegger and Campbell have approached their collaborative debut: "We make things to find out what they are, what they can be, what they might mean. We make things to keep us company in the world. We make things to show them to other people, because we want them to understand." --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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