December 12th 2009
Nemi, Volume III,
written by Lisa Myhre
Reviewed by Gavin O'Reilly
The daily commute to work is a familiar voyage and rite of passage for many a Londoner, and indeed city dweller worldwide. There are many trials and tribulations on this arduous daily return trip- the smells for one- the joy of coffee being pumped out in double quick time so as not to miss the train, to the unlucky happenstance of being squashed up next to the one crazy hobo who is crazy enough to travel in rush hour, filling your nostrils with the distinctly stale smells of body odour, urine and alcohol. Add to the mix the general pushing and shoving, invasion of personal space and transformation of supposedly civilised human beings into deranged rat race wildebeests, and you have an aspect of city life that is just too much for some.
There has been a development in the new millennium that has helped to ease this ritual journey however, one which has changed the standard occupying time and appearance of the commuter from listening to music and mindlessly staring into space, or just mindlessly staring into space, into a reader- eagerly and interestedly flicking through the easily digestible news and delights of the free press. This is where I and a legion of worldwide fans became familiar with Nemi. Nemi is big in Europe and the strip form of her stories, which we are most familiar with currently appears daily in Metro across 16 major cities. Her first volume has reprinted multiple times, and this is the third volume of tales and tribulations of the heart breaking, straight talking 21st century gothic girl about town.
A lot of the action still appears in the familiar 3-5 panel strip layout which we are all now comfortably accustomed to. We are however also treated to single page and several page anecdotes of our unique protagonist. It is a glory to behold the work in such a fine format- lush hardback, larger sized filled with glossy paper making the most out of the bright and sensitive use of colour, as well as the well balanced depth of line and amazing (and all too familiar) emotive facial expressions that Mhyre displays here. None of this really comes across in the oft creased low quality print on our daily transit. What it is that keep us going back for more on our trips is the stories, and acute social observations. This is the real strength of Nemi, and though arguably her strongest relation from character to reader is that of the outsider, I believe there to be something in Nemi and her cast of friends and characters that we all have in us, or can at least relate to. Who, in big city life- does not feel, at least on occasion, the isolation of an outsider of society?
That said, Nemi is bright and breezy, opinionated but not outwardly rude and utterly charming. Like most misunderstood “Goths” I met and know then. Her experiences of dating, social outings and she spends and wastes time gloriously with her friends is certainly familiar with most, if not all, twenty-forty-somethings. While unlikely to be a life changing read, Nemi does offer insights into thoughts we have all had with humour and often touching sadness and emotion, and does so without pretension to knowing the answers. This hardback collection comes with intro piece by performance artists, poet, author and vocalist Nicole Blackman- clearly a kindred spirit to Nemi and her creator Lise Mhyre. This is an easy read that is likable enough to want more, and an excellent addition to any coffee table.
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