What the flaming monkey toots did I just read? Or more accurately, took me a few days to read. Team Photograph is an artist’s interpretation of Lauren Haldeman’s experiences and feelings. When I first finished the online (though currently available) reader copy, I was thinking, “Is Team Photograph a memoir? An attempt at purging the feelings she has about death? Is it a commentary on war and the resulting death that will haunt people if they are aware of it? Or is it just a creative way to have a peek into history?”
And probably a whole lot of somethings that flew right over my head, like the spirits she sees in her childhood home, the soccer fields of her youth and the ones you never see, but still are there haunting away.
Haldeman’s story is a bumpy dirt road that also has a direction that is logical. And sometimes you go off it for a minute or two, to see what is “over there,” only to come back again. She talks about the past, present and how the two intertwine. She mentions things that sometimes feel out of order, but all flow in the way needed. She is dealing with emotions, scientific explanations and worries that cover many areas and even eras. She hunts and pecks through her memories and historical documents to try and find something lost.
This is not for everyone, especially as the story, and especially the art, can be both oversimplified and an odd complexity to it that might confuse readers. The mixture of the poetry with the art, and how it evolves to set the story and tone, can be a bit awkward, overwhelming, confusing and the perfect addition. Sometimes this makes things perhaps a bit “too artistic” for a casual reader of illustrated stories, but it is what makes sense to the author (read their afterwards about the inspiration for the look of the characters).