Cathy Malkasian's Eartha hides a cutting social satire within the gentlest of fairy tale wrappings. The titular Eartha is a gentle giant of a lady, living in an isolated fjord village, taking care of her fellow agrarian fjord-ers with her great strength and soothing presence. The fjord's key source of entertainment comes in the form of the dreams of a distant city, which manifest themselves physically, but have been drying up of late. The earnest Eartha is tricked into investigating by the town's head dream archivist, but when she arrives in the city, she finds it on the verge of collapse. The city folk have been driven to the verge of madness and economic collapse by a crippling addiction to news biscuits, bite sized biscuits with bite sized bits of tragedy printed on them from around the globe. Eartha soon learns the sinister purpose of these biscuits, and in the process, she learns about herself as well. Malkasian's biscuits serve as a handy metaphor in this age of social media news and the virtue signalling that comes with it. It would cut too close, were it not for her art work. Working predominantly in colored pencil, the art has a soft dreamlike quality that helps the medicine go down. Relevant but sweet, Eartha doesn't preach but does make you feel like it has a point.— From What is Chris Andersen reading?
Malkasian's stunning landscapes and depictions of nature, gestural character nuance, and sophisticated storytelling are on display in her latest graphic novel. For a thousand years, the unfinished dreams--sex fantasies, murder plots, wishful thinking--from the City Across the Sea came to Echo Fjord to find sanctuary. Emerging from the soil, they took bodily form and wandered the land, gently guided by the fjord folk. But recently they've stopped coming, and Eartha wants solve the mystery. Without thought or hesitation--the city isn't on any map, or in anyone's memory--she ventures into the limitless waters, hoping to find the City.