“My heart remained there, as if time stood still. For me…
The Rose was always you.”
Thus opens the elusive and spellbinding Eros/Psyche. The Rose is a mysterious all-girls school where students clad in uniforms reminiscent of Wednesday Addams engage in the witch-like practices of collecting plant samples and performing unexplained rituals, all while studying under the tutelage of a council that is more ominous whispers than concrete characters. The story unfolds as a series of semi-sequential flashbacks from Sara, whose memories are dominated by her best friend turned lover, Silje, as they navigate their school days. Hovering over this sweet queer coming-of-age love story is the cryptic threat of what happens if you falter while at The Rose, and what happened to them while there, as Sara and Silje are no longer together when Sara begins narrating her tale.
This is a rare gem in the world of comics, where the art truly tells half the story. The memories, feelings, and impressions revealed by dialogue and the inner thoughts of Sara are most often sweet and ethereal, with Sara floating through her school days as in a dream. Yet, the art reveals a different story, revealing cryptic numeric codes the students easily translate, or numerous perplexing rituals such as hanging scissors in a field above nests or sending homemade dolls out in boats. In fact, Sara’s narration is so divorced from the art at times that it’s downright creepy. She seems to accept all this as perfectly normal, above explanation or inclusion in her narration, leaving the reader questioning what exactly is this world she lives in?
In fact, so much of this comic is left unexplained that it is hard to describe, but this tale of young queer love set against a Gothic horror background will have you coming back again and again. Whether to crack the seemingly impenetrable story, or to indulge in the exquisite romance that is Sara and Silje. The comic may seem sparse through a first read, but you will find your mind often drifting back to The Rose, and into the daydream come nightmare awaiting you there.
The art style feels like a cross between Milo Manara, with wide-eyed and waifish women sporting sensuous pouts, and Micheal Allred’s heavy lines and coloring style . However, in the deft hands of Maria Llovet we are left with a picture more akin to a women’s utopia than the exploitative male-gaze presented by the other two aforementioned authors. The world of The Rose is Gothic but elegant, tender but full of sharp edges, and always always about the women who populate the pages.
Do yourself a favor and check out this gorgeous and unique comic told by a storyteller who is a master of the art form. The story has only just begun and I can’t begin to imagine what incredible story will unfold before us! The fifth issue has just released fromAblaze Publishing, available wherever good comics are sold. Be sure to also check out the beautiful alternative covers which include Madame Xandu and Pulp Fiction references!