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Book Review < Back

From Cloud 99: Memories vol. 1

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Bernard Yslaire
Publisher: Humanoids Publishing


Who is in charge of establishing genres? Is there a small department in some university somewhere? I bet there is. I bet it's staffed by a curmudgeon-y professor of literature and his comely young assistant. The French teachers with whom they share the building - I'm sure they share the building with the Language department as a matter of necessity. If they shared with Literature, nothing would ever get done! - the French teachers eye her lasciviously as French teachers will, but the comely assistant only has eyes for arguing obscure points of classification with Herr Professor. "Magical Realism" was her idea. I suspect she's secretly in love with Marquez.

What would our heroine do with Yslaire and FROM CLOUD 99, I wonder. It's a mystery - that's easily established. In 1998, Eva Stern, a ninety-eighty year old psychoanalyst, receives an anonymous email on the anniversary of her brother's death. The email contains a series of linked images - linked in terms of HTML and linked thematically. The images span the century, Eva's century, and each presents a study of flight. Another email comes in a month. And another, the month after. Each missive is more personal than the last. Some contain short Flash films of Eva's memories. How is that possible? Are the emails Eva's delusions? No, Eva's young colleague receives an email as well. It's similar, but different. Lucienne's centers upon her dead mother, Eva's all suggest her brother. Who is sending these? How and, most curiously, why? ... Mystery.

There's something more needed, though. Something that captures the tone - the quiet intellectualism and the rich warm tones that color the book. It drips like Schubert and the soundtrack to Smila's Sense of Snow. It smells like a cedar chest and the hostel I stayed in in Prague years ago. What is that? "Beautiful Mystery?" No.

It's best that I leave this to the comely assistant.

-- Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, MO, where she lives with her husband and artbomb.net colleague, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue writes the English adaptations of several manga titles published by Tokyopop and Viz. She can be found on the web at kellysue.com.


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