On the Exhale
by Lucy Meyle
Discarded cigarette packets, a haze of apprehension, a hunched figure: the creature whose inner monologue reassures us in Lucy Meyle’s new zine On the Exhale. The sad sasquatch-like figure appeared in an earlier zine A Walk in the Park – half comic, half animation, the creature strolls through the pages of a minimalistic narrative zine. It isn’t clear if this is exactly the same figure, if it is though, it’s lost its confidence and vim it once had. In On the Exhale its posture and awkward form personify anxiety.
The first impression of On the Exhale is pure materiality. It is immediately evident that choice of paper stock is agonised over to the nth degree, to confer just the right weight in the reader’s hands. And it’s worth it; On the Exhale feels as much an art object as it is a zine.
Restlessness and anxiety are the key themes in On the Exhale. The narrative takes the hapless creature from a kind of listless nicotine fog to an anxious stroll through streets of unwelcoming storefronts. Meyle’s mastery of the unsure brush mark is what really makes this zine exquisite. Shaky black marks scrape into nothingness as the brush runs out of ink – each uncertain line feels like a hangover – and it’s all done with careful purpose.
On the Exhale exhibits Meyle’s signature abstract storytelling style. Entire double page spreads dedicated to collections of shapes and marks. A nearly empty page with a single mark gives us a peaceful moment of calm. No setting is provided for us, but these pages give us a tonal landscape to imagine the story in. Meandering lines travel around a page as they search for a cigarette accidentally discarded.
Could this be a personal anecdote? It’s hard to imagine someone who is collected enough to construct delicate zines such as All Message Play Back or On the Exhale harbouring the jittering anxiety expressed within – but it doesn’t matter – it’s a relatable narrative to anyone who’s been addicted to anything ever.
Lucy Meyle’s new zine is more than deserving of the Best of the Fest title it won at Auckland Zinefest, and a worthwhile purchase for zine collectors, comic aficionados and art fanciers.
Richard Richards is a high school visual arts teacher and designer for Potroast.
This review is also published in the New Zealand Zine Review Zine Annual Issue 1.
Super Nice review by Richard Richards from the New Zealand Zine Review. Thanks guysss