Like my last post, this is a review of an on-going work. Unlike Mormon X however, it’s probably unfair of me to review The Garden of Enid this early in its run; but since my review will be positive, I don’t feel too bad.
Enid is approximately 15 years old, awkward around boys, testing out liberalism in a conservative ward, and generally somewhat of a misfit—and she seems pretty okay with that. Of course she’s a cartoon, and the rules of this one seem to be that we only see the glory of being a misfit. I’m sure outside the panel walls she sheds the occasional confused and lonely tear. But we don’t see that and thus we get to enjoy her as awkward teenage hero.
Which gets to one of the strengths of the single-panel as a genre. On the one hand, and I’m quoting none other than Scott McCloud here, they’re just single isolated moments in time and thus not even comics. But—and I’m terrified to go against the McCloud—he’s wrong. Sure, The Far Side was only one panel a day, but if you read it every day for years, it served as a serious continuing view into a warped world[view] with plenty of liminal space between the panels in which the reader was left to fill in the blanks.
[This liminal, interpanel space, by the way, the space in which the reader becomes co-creator, is one of the great strengths of comics as a medium. But I'm not getting into that today.]
Enid’s single-paneled story is the same. We tend to see her in distinct moments, but in the eighteen panels that exist as of this writing, we are beginning to get a sense of her life—not just as a MIA Maniac but of her past and future as well.
And you get the sense that she’s going to be okay.
The art is very much of 2014. I like how it appears to be drawn digitally while at the same time seeming to be a scan that retained the blue-pencil rough. This bit of skeuomorphism has its own charm and certainly lends to the idea of a young character as not yet fully formed in herself. (I tweeted the artist a question about this aspect of her process, but haven’t heard back yet.) The messy chaos of Enid’s depiction, like the messy chaos of her hair, is exactly who Enid is (as is her carefully designed-and-made ducktape dress): The girl who feels she isn’t quite the same as everyone else and thus can’t be fully herself unless she outwardly demonstrates her uniqueness.
The good news, Enid, is that the Church has plenty of room for you. And thanks to the internet, you won’t have a hard time finding likeminded hearts within the greater tribe of Zion.
But I think she already knows that.
Behold the hashtag, the millennial’s declaration of membership:
Two final comments:
1. I’m guessing the artist has a massive screen on her computer because the top of her Tumblr eats up almost two full screens of my not-small laptop. That’s too far to scroll….
2. I don’t know who the artist is and have decided I’m happy not to know. If she wants to be known, great, but I don’t feel a need to uncover her. Though I am assuming she’s a her. I could be wrong, of course.
UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve learned the identity of the artist of Enid. And . . . once again, it’s someone I know. I will only add this: she’s actually a man.