The title for Magic Nation #1 by Ellen O’Grady comes from her having misunderstood her mother, who said, “You sure have an imagination.” Instead, Ellen hears, “magic nation.” Indeed much more fitting for what she offers readers in this first installment of her ongoing graphic autobiography. Originally published on SOLRAD, Magic Nation recounts memories from O’Grady’s childhood of time spent meandering a wooded lot near her home. She sings lines from the Grizzly Adams television theme song, at times having him and his friend Nakoma join her as she goes wandering. She takes readers on an exploration of an abandoned pool and pool house, conjuring past lives lived in darkly shaded imagery, then back out into the brilliantly colored natural world. Her interactions with natural life are as delicate as her graphic style, using fine lines in a mixture of semi-realism and minimalism. Most striking are the unfinished lines that don’t complete figures and white spaces where she doesn’t take the watercolors right to the edge. This creates a kind of soft invitation for viewers to participate in completing the pictures, bringing their own imaginations into play. A beautiful and thoughtfully paced narrative and a welcome meditative escape to visit again and again.
Magic Nation #1 by Ellen O’Grady. Fieldmouse Press, September 2022.
Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is Editor of NewPages.com and reviews books she chooses based on her own personal interests.