It takes a strong will to choose psychogeography as the subject for a graphic novel – it’s not an easy subject to get your head round at the best of times – but that doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Christian Skovgaard. His new book Picking Up Pieces is based around a young woman who is forced to deal with the death of her lover in tandem with the news of the collapse of a historical archive in Cologne. Newly absorbed by the emergency services’ attempts to salvage what they can from the ruins, the woman finds sanctuary in tying her own loss to this physical one, and explores the two simultaneously.
Drawn mainly in a muted colour palette and with an unusual but charming airbush technique, Picking Up Pieces is a wonderful appropriation of the difficulties of grief. Christian’s background in architectural model building and graphic design permeate the story, lending legitimacy to the intricate images of cathedrals and basilicas which run throughout. And as an ingenious finishing touch, the book’s dust jacket folds out to create a map of model pieces which, “if put together, make a scale model (1:250) of the dome of the Marble church in Copenhagen,” Christian explains. “Instruction diagrams can be found on the very first and last pages, they have been put there to assist you in constructing the model,” he continues, before wishing readers the best of luck.