One of the things I truly love about graphic novels is that there’s always a chance of stumbling across the kind of story that you just wouldn’t find anywhere else. Her Bark & Her Bite is a great example. It’s the story of a toxic relationship that’s doomed to failure, as two young people meet, fall in love with each other, proceed through a perfectly reasonable early romance filled with parties and drinking, but find their differences mushrooming as their lives stop revolving around each other and return to reality.
James Albon has produced the entire book, both writing it and drawing the pictures. The illustration is beautiful, created entirely in coloured pencil, which gives it a pastel, light air. The lines and shade flow through the panels, bringing the story to life as if it were caught in a breeze. The darkness of parts of the story contrast sharply with the whimsical drawings, echoing the undertow of the relationship we’re reading about.
It’s an extraordinary book that leaves you in a whirl of relationship disaster, trying to sort out what went wrong and how things could have been different. The characters, despite an almost caricatured extremeness to some, come to life in the pages of the book – you feel like a friend as you’re watching them fall in love, with the question of whether they’re really suited hanging over you, then you live through the highs and lows with them as external influences and incompatibilities start chipping away at their relationship. Extraordinary stuff.