I like E.J. Barnes. She’s an artist with more than a bit of a historian in her, focusing a great deal of her comic work on older but lesser known artists and works. When she’s not illustrating the obscure writer “Blaster” Al Ackerman, she’s setting old folk songs to animation and bringing even more obscure work into light. Most recently, it’s a Jonathan Swift poem her 7″ x 8 ½” mini is titled after.
Describing the sad, nightly routine of an eighteenth century prostitute, Swift pulled no punches in these stanzas, which are likely jarring even to modern readers. Barnes’ illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts, are a perfect accompaniment to the words. My only problem was the use of black lettering with equally dark pages where white lettering would worked just fine (as you see a few pages more into it).
Maybe it’s the way I read, but I felt the need to look up the comics free version of the poem first. The web page where I found it included some definitions of 18th century words and phrases. Some of them I would have figured out by myself or with the help of Barnes’ drawings, but one or two discoveries were helpful. Some readers may be slightly irked at having to delve a little bit into the topic at hand, but something tells me that’s what Barnes hoped we would do all along.