Comics artists who create their own dreamscapes form almost their own subgenre. Folks like Jim Woodring, Dave Cooper, and Renée French do something on the page that is unmistakably theirs. You never crack open one of their books and mistake it for the latest issue of Avengers.
Francesca Ghermandi is another such cartoonist. The Italian creator is largely unknown in the states, and that is a mistake. Her books about Pastil, the little girl with the Tylenol-like head, offer the finest in modern surrealism. Hapless little Pastil wanders from calamity to calamity, an innocent in a world that is harsh, violent, and for some reason, angry that she even exists.
The best part of all - it's all done entirely without words. Ghermandi refuses to let her vision be hampered by language barriers. You can read PASTIL without knowing a syllable of her native language - the greatest testament to the deftness of her drawing hand. She works in soft pencils, adding to the hazy, just out-of-focus quality of the stories. It's the world you live in before you've had your morning latte, lovely in its fuzzy edges... only Ghermandi knows what's at the bottom of the cup.
Jamie S. Rich has edited comic books for ten years, over half of them as editor in chief at Oni Press. In 2000, he published his first novel, Cut My Hair, and is currently exploring his second. When it's done, he swears his website, confessions123.com, will make a lot more sense. In addition, he has written film and music criticism for various publications, and has worked on scripts for far more Tokyopop manga translations than he cares to count.