Nicole Claveloux’s The Green Hand and Other Stories

download (5)Nicole Claveloux’s The Green Hand and Other Stories is a collection of graphic fiction from thr 1970s which have only now found themselves in english. The content is varied, yet has a throughline of the odd and just olain weird that will be familiar to some, a certain sense of humor that is rarely subtle and never understated.

The title story (a collaboration between the artist and Edith Zha) is the longest and first. Featuring a woman who buys a plant to keep a bird company, the tale swiftly becomes even more bizzare page by page. The titular “Green Hand” is origionally a reference along the line fo the english “green thumb” saying before leading to the woman painting her whole hand and listening to verbal statements from the plant while her bird tries to kill it.

A bizzare tale of murder, sexuality, ennui, and many other elements will work to show a clever turn on the destructiveness of depression. At the same time it surves as one of the stranger stories, sexual libertinism and the knowledge of age set into place in a manner which will seem baffling to some and disturbing to others. On the other hand most of this disturbing nature is clearly intentional, an example of someone trying to find a life that works and only being more disoriented for it.

While many goung into this volume will be blind to Nicole Claveloux, I had seen some of Claveloux’s work in the past. I found the snippet well made, and was pleased to see that story in this volume as well. “Stupistory Number 1” is a multipage narrative of a girl taking off her heavy winter clothes to be examined by a doctor. Featuring the kind of dark humor that pervaded Charles Addams and Glen Baxter, it manages to makes things work for an internal logic without going further. It is one of the shortest pieces in the collection, and because of that it becomes the most obvious way of illustrating the importance of a structure of the book.

There are throughout the book a number of blank pages which can be turned to reveal the start of a new story. On it’s own thus might feel like wasted space, but it is vital to reading the tales properly. “Stupistory Number 1” is 2 pages, but they work only as a two page spread to most functional purposes. At minimum a great deal of the oddity and odd parallelism work to it’s advantage when the pages are placed next to one another.  

A good sized assortment of stories are in this book, including all of the Edith Zha collaborations. Between those and the solo projects favorites will depend upon taste, although the differences are far mre subtle than might be expected. The use of adolescent or child sexuality will disturb most english language readers, as will implications of beastiality, but intentionally so. This could be argued as hearkening back to J.M. Barrie, or it could be seen as an instinctive move towards the sexual from Claveloux after working in more child friendly material for so long.

Included towards the end is a nice interview with Nicole Claveloux and Edith Zha. While any such interview would present a wonderful and fascinating look into the minds of the people responsible for this set of comics, the fact it was both conducted and translated into English by Madeleine Schwartz helps the piecr feel like it has a particular level of fidelity. It’s discusses some of the thoughts behind specific stories in the collection, as well as past work and the method by which the pair began to collaborate.

Overall The Green Hand and Other Stories is a quality collection with excellent examples of the work of the creators. Well it’s easy to recommend to students of graphic fiction or comics, and likely to entertain or educate, it does need to be treated carefully. The collection is not for those with a particularly weak stomach or faint heart,  almost every piece in it hitting on the more grotesque or disgusting. Interested party should take a look, and anyone wishing to understand international adult targeted comics should definitely read some of this material.


(NYRC 2022)

Warner Holme

Warner Holme is a longtime booklover who tends to read anything he can. He has held many positions, ranging from the educational to medical all the way to the mildly usurous. Largely forgotten by those around him, Warner has lived in a number of locations, yet keeps being pulled back to the south. He currently lives there with his pets, and politely asks not to be disturbed.

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