It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth
Cartoonist Zoe Thorogood records 6 months of her own life as it falls apart in a desperate attempt to put it back together again in the only way she knows how.
It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth, the sophomore solo effort of cartoonist Zoe Thorogood is every bit as emotionally vulnerable and introspective as its “auto-bio-graphic novel” subtitle suggests. In It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth, Thorogood tracks six months of her life and shares her struggles with depression, relationships, and comics. She’s open about her anxieties, and insecurities, and doesn’t shy away from depicting herself in ways that aren’t always likable or admirable. Readers shouldn’t come into It’s Lonely with the expectation of a neat or tidy conclusion because, as in real life, very little in this comic ties up neatly. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth any less brilliant.
Bouncing between comedy, tragedy, and horror in the blink of an eye, It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth feels emotionally expansive but rarely stays in one place–in terms of space, time, or tone–for long. The same “bounciness” extends to the comic’s visuals, which include a mixture of precise nine-panel-grid comics, loose cartoons, collage, pixel art, and even texts. Some pages are monochromatic, and others are highly saturated with hot pink, lime green, and orange. Taken as a whole, It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth feels almost unrelenting in its unpredictability but refreshing and captivating for exactly the same reasons.
While the comic’s visual shifts can feel jarring at times, Thorogood makes another large departure from the vast majority of autobiographical comics in a way that helps tie the book’s wide range of styles together. Rather than depict one version of herself, there are often several Zoes present at one time who range from a semi-realistic self-portrait to a wide-eyed child/chibi Zoe. As explained by Scott McCloud in his comic criticism comic Understanding Comics, cartoonist Scott McCloud explains that “the more cartoony a face is, … the more people it could be said to describe.” And perhaps that’s why it’s the cartoonist Zoe of them all that anxiously looks out over a group of comic attendees with the same face, all talking about how “relatable” her work is.
This is one small way of many that It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth shows a great deal of craft and technical skill that show on every page. It’s easy to understand why people in Thorogood’s life/the comic version of her life have called her “the future of comics.” I, for one, can’t wait to see what she makes next.
It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth is a vital reminder of what comics and their creators are capable of - and it’s a hilarious, horrifying, heartbreaking read, to boot.
It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth: The Comic of a Thousand Faces
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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