By Darryl Ayo
by Sophie Goldstein
The cover of Edna II shimmers. It has a thin reflective overlay which creates a glimmering haze over the landscape that encompasses The Bubble and The World Outside Of The Bubble. This effect, along with the fact that there is a bubble for characters to live in implies that the world as we know it has been destroyed by environmental pollution.
Our protagonist, David, lives outside of the bubble and he is old. David’s ex-wife Edna is youthful and healthy-looking. Much more so than David who appears to be a man at the end of his natural lifespan. David battles on, however. He grumbles about artificially augmented human life as he collects debris from the fallen world with his grasshopper-like robot companion, Edna II.
David’s encounters with citizens of the bubble city simultaneously degrade him and reinforce his beliefs in maintaining a simple, natural lifestyle–even though it will cost him his life. David is not like these people. “How can there be God without Death?” The answer here is “there can’t be.”
Cartoonist Sophie Goldstein’s hallmark is her fluid, smooth lines and distinctive forms. An able caricaturist, Goldstein presents a cast of characters who aren’t merely superficially different. These characters even have different bone structures. While the cast of Edna II is small, one can imagine that Goldstein has the ability to continue designing visually distinct characters as needed.
The pages of Edna II are laid out on a basic six-panel grid with variations designed by merging panels as Goldstein needs. Fundamentally, this entire comic is laid on that tight structure. This allows Goldstein’s pacing to truly shine.
Since Edna II is a quiet story of one man’s determination to resist the world around him, Goldstein paces the comic to show the man’s travels through the city in the bubble and his reprieve in his cabin outside of the bubble. The back and forth between artificial life and natural life unfolds at a gradual pace. Goldstein never has to drive the point home. Nor does the cartoonist pass judgement either way. David’s perspective is clear but equally clear are the benefits to living in the science-enhanced bubble world.
Conflicting points of view without preaching. Characters live on the page free from a heavy-handed judgement from the author. The story resolution is also free from praise or condemnation. It is what it is.