Do you remember how hard it was to keep girl/boyfriends a secret from the family; how many elusive trips to the cinema with your best friend had to be made or those two long hours spent walking the dog? Imagine how much harder it would then be if they were girlfriends not of the living, breathing type, but hand crafted and made from papier maché, balloons and string. Might be a bit awkward. But this is the case for Richard, the main character in Illustrator Gareth Brookes’ award-winning graphic novel The Black Project which sees us stumbling down a trail of obsession right into the heart of 1990s British suburbia. Reality slips and friendships and family relationships are brushed aside for his all-consuming passion for girl-creating.
Described as “a darkly funny story about obsession, loneliness and friendship,” after winning the First Fiction prize 2013, Gareth’s first graphic novel is now published and about to be released by Myriad Editions on September 12. And all 208 pages of this ominous tale are spectacular, mixing dark lino cuts with embroidery and hand-written text. Pack away the craft materials and get reading.