Writer and Artist: Jenny Allen
Black and White
Jenny Allen writes and draws a comic charting a story of isolation and creativity, love and legacy – the things we inherit, and the things we cultivate.
This is probably a redundant observation to make but Lockdown has been a total arse of a time for most people. Yes, measures had to be put in place to limit the spread and impact of Covid; but the lack of social contact has been utterly exhausting. This is addressed head-on in Growth, a 53-page comic by Jenny Allen.
Written during the course of various lockdowns, it uses aspects of gardening as a vehicle to talk about a variety of topics and a range of emotions that have resulted from the situation. It’s a panel-a-page, so you can get through it in about five minutes. But it’s got enough ideas to keep you thinking for days after reading it and enough small, honest touches of sentimentality and hope to count as an emotional roller-coaster. It’s art-as-therapy, and whilst very personal the feelings are universal enough to touch everyone’s heart.
The comic is presented in black and white, primarily with simple pen work but with some use of shading for texture. Whilst the main style is consistent throughout, the panels have a variety of compositions so that it never feels repetitive. Looking at them individually you can see they are well crafted, and when viewed in sequence they gain a magnificent extra depth. That and the silent pages show off the power of the kind of story comics can tell. It’s the kind of comic anyone can enjoy instantly, and there is a dumb cat in it for extra joy.
In short, I loved it. It’s an excellent little story; moving, funny and true. I don’t have much more to say, as I don’t want to give too much away or over-egg your expectations. I just wanted another paragraph so I could share another sample image from it because sharing this book helps make me feel a bit better when all the turmoil is going on. Maybe reading it will do the same for you.
If you are interested in checking out Growth, the comic will be available at jennyallenart.com