It’s very hard not to be completely taken in by this book. It’s such an obvious labor of both love and obsession, full of heart, full of weirdness, completely self-aware in the most rewarding of ways, and just very good.
It’s also a bit intimidating of a book. It’s about 500 pages of near-folio size pages that looks to be scribbled into a series of spiral notebooks. The art style is entirely variable and at times purposely derivative, and the ever-present blue lines of a wide ruled noted book and the constant crosshatching of a ball point pen add depth and authenticity.
The book is styled a diary of a 10 year old girl living in New York in the late 1960s. She views herself through a dual lens of being a monster (like a werewolf) and a detective as she’s looking for clues regarding the suspicious death (maybe or maybe not suspicious to adults?) of her older neighbor Anka, a German war refugee, who had connections to Deeze (Diego Zapata), our narrator’s older brother.
The book flows in and out of different genres from memoir to detective fiction to pulp monster and sci fiction comics to hard-edged realistic fiction to art celebrations. The art style is most often slightly comic stylings of the main character as a cartoonish werewolf with the people around her R. Crumb/Will Eisner/Harvey Pekar nightmarish New Yorkers to beautifully rendered and hallowing portraits done in mostly blue ink. But then there will other sections that look like Art Spiegelman and other stylists. It’s not the constant shifting and dramatic changes ala Spiderman Into the Spiderverse, but much more subtle flowing from style to style.
It’s a bit of a daunting book at times because there’s constant shifts in narrative focus, and the flow of the art is not always the sequential style most common to graphic novels. But there’s a lot on every page to look at and consider. It’s hard not to fall completely head over heels for the narrator and be completely gutted by the story of Anka.