Body Music by Julie Maroh
Vancouver. Arsenal Pulp Press. 2017. 300 pages.
With an orchestra of players on the stage of the streets of Montreal, Julie Maroh conducts a symphony of the human condition in Body Music. Through twenty-one graphic-narrative vignettes, Maroh guides us through a stunning array of emotions as she chronicles the lives and relationships of people across the city. With few exceptions, each vignette is unique in the players it presents, giving a specific movement of discrete instruments, like a separate movement for each flavor of love. As such, each treats its subject matter the way we experience love for the first time. Some notes are strange, some sweet, comforting, others dark, discordant, and also propulsive.
Maroh runs us through all different kinds of love: puppy love, lust for sex, the feeling of losing your most cherished companion to debilitating disease, to missed love and ships passing in the night. No form is off the score. So too are the players diverse.
Maroh’s artwork is also harmonious. Beautiful, fluid, and impressionistic at times, the art brings the song of the work to life, depicting all the glory of love. At times it changes slightly to fit the differing themes of the vignette. In one vignette, her art takes on a darker, more abstract appearance in a story dealing with love as interpreted through First Nations’ folk culture. In another, the art bears a more realistic, harder edge during one of the silent sequences, telling the story fully through the art. The art also represents a hidden love, Montreal itself.
D. Emerson Eddy