This gripping comic book from Anna Bongiovanni is one of the strongest efforts 2D Cloud has published and one of the most powerful debuts for an author I’ve ever had a chance to read. Out of Hollow Water is a dark, disturbing collection of tales about women and the psychological and physical damage they undertake from mythological creatures or metaphorical monsters. It’s a compilation of three tales called “Monster,” “Out of Hollow Water,” and “Grave.”
The book is definitely powerful, using nameless characters to convey vague stories with emotional depth. Anna Bongiovanni illustrates a gritty style to communicate odd feelings of violation and undesired sentiment. With the book’s opening story, “Monster,” Bongiovanni shows a woman being violated by a monster on an emotional and physical level. The monster here represents an intruder the woman feels sickened by, who forcefully entered her life and scarred her on multiple levels. The end of the tale is followed by multiple grey/black drawings of the woman dealing this demonic beast. It’s short and simple, yet “Monster,” symbolizes so much emotion and thoughtfulness that it lusts for multiple reads.
“Out of Hollow Water,” is a longer tale that takes up the majority of the book involving three women: a victim, her sister, and a caretaker (possibly mother?). The victim is seemingly bruised and bloody, having just given birth to some sort of demonic baby that another woman helped deliver. The sister of the victim is now given the task to rid the baby, but it overcome with a sense of guilt due to the baby’s natural innocence. It’s hard to watch this girl go through a gloomy forest holding a new-born baby, contemplating if she should kill it or let it live, but readers do get a sense of danger from the obviously demonic/unwanted baby. And danger does ensue, as a female monster eventually finds the baby and places it in its womb.
The pacing through this story is wonderful and fully utilizes the dimensions of the book itself. Each page is a 6 inch square, so the journey the readers takes through the forest alongside this woman carrying an evil baby and contemplating evils is full of fast, eager page-flipping. The obvious gruesome victim of this story is depicted with such horror, and the tension between the woman carrying the demon spawn and her inner-self is tight, haunting.
The book ends with its final tale called “Grave.” A woman digs up an old box, opens it, rids of some literal gooey-matter that easily translates to regret and negative memories, puts the lid back on the box, and buries it again. Just as the other two stories, there isn’t a solid resolution to “Grave,” yet it does its job in provoking much stimulation in the mind. The woman is seeing burying horrible memories away in her mind, attempting to ignore them for comfort as if they don’t exist, but we see the consequences of avoiding the feelings, as she constantly has her horrible recollections interrupt her grave-digging ritual. The story ends with the words, “You feel lighter. Almost in control,” which surely leaves a haunting and disturbing mood on the reader.
But as haunting and dark Out of Hollow Water is, it’s remarkable and breath-taking. Anna Bongiovanni has created an incredible debut comic for all to remember, tapping into the minds of readers and raising thought-provoking depth to anyone who grazes through this book. Out of Hollow Water is a highly recommended read.