"Body Music," non-traditional love stories, reviewed on NPR
A National Public Radio reviewer enthuses over Julie Maroh's new graphic-novel collection of love tales, many of them queer or non-traditional. As, for instance, in Maroh's cover illustration:
|The setting is Montreal.|
In 'Body Music,' Love Is Sweet, Sexy And A Touch Sentimental
By Etelka Lehoczky
Body Music [is] a collection of 21 vignettes about love ... real people in love — bumbling along, second-guessing themselves and hurting each other — but their pure hearts and capacity for self-scrutiny set them apart from most of the lovers you'll encounter in real life. How often, really, do we act as our best selves in our amorous pursuits? Maroh imagines a world in which we almost always do.
Julie Maroh, French
writer and cartoonist
The stories here are simple. Two people click at a baseball game in a city park. A cyclist stews about a lovers' quarrel. A couple try to recreate the conditions under which they first met. Maroh brings fervent lyricism to each situation, vaulting the characters into flights of eloquence. ... She's just so achingly sincere in her fondness for her characters, you feel like the worst kind of cynic for resisting her.
...An explicit lesbian love scene, two men's flirtation on a dancefloor and other erotic moments are deeply intimate, making the reader feel a bit of an intruder's thrill. Other times, though, Maroh all too clearly addresses her audience; in some stories — particularly those about polyamory and transgender identity — the characters are so noble, they start to sound like goody-two-shoes types in a kids' book meant to inculcate enlightened values.
But that's understandable. It's hard to be idealistic without giving way to preachiness from time to time. Body Music may be a little too sugary, but its sweetness is craveable for good reason.
Read the whole review (November 17, 2017).
● Vulture.com, in 8 Comics to Read (and One Comics Movie to Watch) in November, had these remarks:
...A tender and soft-edged meditation on unconventional love and sex. ... Despite the running theme of intimacy between people who aren’t straight, cis, and white, [Body Music] doesn’t feel performatively woke. Perhaps that has something to do with the sumptuous artwork, with its pillowy lines, luscious sex scenes, and Greek-sculpture facial acting. Buy this one for someone who needs proof that comics can deal with identity politics without feeling stilted and aggravating.
● Some friendly criticism in The Rice Thresher at Rice University: Julie Maroh’s ‘Body Music’ is a longed-for ode to queerness (Nov. 28):
...While she is mostly successful in tackling a large undertaking, there are still some shortcomings from a craft perspective. Beyond the common theme of love and relationships, there is little consistent structure, leading to vignettes that felt out of place or simply submerged among their counterparts. Furthermore, some of the stories are so touching that, at times, they become almost saccharine, even in the most agonizing moments. This sort of romanticizing equates anxiety and fear with passion, or leads to characters keying the words “I still love you” into their ex-lover’s car. Perhaps we are meant to get lost in the moments of tragic romance or idealized claims about human nature, but at times they are simply difficult to buy into.
Another complaint that Maroh frequently garners from casual readers is in regards to her artistic style. It’s simultaneously shocking and scrupulous, and may admittedly be off-putting to comic fans who could see it as lurid compared to the polished and aggressively colorful pages of a commercial comic book. But Maroh has intentionally skirted idealistic cultural tendencies in which “bodies are luscious, photo-shopped within an inch of their lives” in the portrayal of her characters. Instead, she has characters whose appearances refuse gender stereotyping; lovers lying naked and panting, unselfconscious of their weight; transgender individuals with scars after top surgery; people in wheelchairs on their way to concerts. ... “Body Music” asserts there is no need to be embarrassed by one’s body or appearance, and instead chooses to worship what it is capable of and what bursting emotions it contains.
● Maroh posts one of her tales in its entirety on Buzzfeed: "Back at Dawn", an episode of jealousy in a now-gay couple. What they're doing with their hands is sign language.