Jessica Farm Vol. 1

by Josh Simmons

Publisher: Fantagraphics

Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, black & white, $14.95

ISBN: 978-1-56097-913-5

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

Simmons's eerily bizarre sophomore graphic novel about a teen-aged girl who lives on a farm represents the first installment of an extremely ambitious life-spanning project: Simmons plans to create a singe page per month for the next 50 years. The mammoth story begins simply enough when the titular character wakes up on Christmas morning. She proceeds to talk to her monkey friend, shower with a miniature lounge band performing in her soap dish and get abducted by a foul-mouthed vagrant living under the stairs. And then things get weird: menacing monsters float through the hallways and, more startling, her monkey is savagely knifed to death. Despite a mounting number of mysteries, there's only a hint of a plot line, and the story unfolds as a series of weird encounters. The grainy black and white illustrations lend an additional layer of atmospheric disquiet to the stark narrative that includes full nudity, bloody violence and at least one image of grotesque infant mutilation. Despite the fragmented nature of the tale, the unique story is captivating because it is odd in the fullest sense of the word: there's no sign of the ordinary, usual and expected.