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Spiral and Other Stories

Spiral and Other Stories

by Aidan Koch, afterword by Nicole Rudick

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For years, Aidan Koch’s comics have been pushing the boundaries of the medium, reimagining what a comic can look like and how it can tell a story. Koch has been living and working in the desert of California, turning her focus toward the ways humans and the natural world converge. Spiral and Other Stories is a triumph of that continuing process. 

Using watercolors, pencils, crayons, charcoals, and collage, Koch builds worlds of dense detail and vast open spaces, urgent scrawled text and long silences, telling a series of stories about people and the places they inhabit. Characters yearn for each other, even as they’re pulled toward different lives. Rivers dance together, then diverge as they make their way to the sea.

With an accompanying essay by the author and critic Nicole Rudick, who explores Koch’s craft and her move into environmentally focused comics, Spiral and Other Stories is a showcase of Koch’s mastery of comics as a medium that can contain astonishing forms and offer new kinds of storytelling for our uncertain times.

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Comics
ISBN: 9781681378350
Pages: 208
Publication Date:

Praise

Across the main title story and three shorter stories, artist and graphic novelist Koch contemplates nature and relationships via sparse, impressionistic art and laconic narration and dialogue…. White space dominates the pages, the emptiness amplifying bright splashes of watercolor, dabs and slabs of earth tones, and the striking visages of Koch’s characters. Koch gorgeously captures the poignancy of facial expressions (anchored by soulful eyes and wriggled brows) and the poetry of a body’s pose. This keen eye for kinesiology runs through all four stories ... [they are] boldly meditative and enriching.
Kirkus Reviews

Many of these pages are purely abstract, but when Koch draws details, it’s in startlingly specific and consistent contours that give these stories a breadth of character as well as depiction: No two of her faces look alike unless she wants them to, and a stretch of grass realized as a blob of thick green paint might find itself occupied by a casually virtuosic grasshopper.
—Sam Thielman, The New York Times Book Review

With some comics, at least, it’s easy to feel removed from their human progenitor altogether. Yet with Koch we have the opposite thing going on: we’re almost too close to the point of creation. In her washes, we can practically follow the direction of her brush as it fills the page up and down. Lines sometimes overstep the corner of the panels, where she has taken her pencil too far over with a ruler; in the gutter are accidental smudges, perhaps where her hand has been leaning. Combined with how everything in this book, including the blurbs and front matter, is written in Koch’s own tight, slanted handwriting, and you are left with a mass-produced object that manages to feel deeply personal and idiosyncratic.
—David McAllister, Prospect Magazine

Koch’s lovely, softly colored minimalism zeroes in on small, specific details, such as the blue polka dots of a woman’s socks as she climbs a staircase—resulting in an innovative image that looks like drops of water floating up the steps. This and other abstractions suffuse the work with a beguilingly ambient quality. Koch’s artful interludes offer much to ponder.
Publishers Weekly

Aidan Koch’s Spiral is visually exquisite, colors and silences and lines dancing across a page. But what really excites me is how these comics work, or resist working, as fiction. How an eye moves through the plot. It’s almost like Koch has taken the abstract minimalist fictions of someone like Lydia Davis and turned them into—installation? a sculpture? A beautiful provocative space to be inside of and move through.
—Danielle Dutton

Aidan Koch is a master of minimalism. Each page is an evocative poetic structure. She pares down her drawing and writing to create big open spaces of thought—meditations on friendship, change, and how we overlap with the natural world.
—Lauren R. Weinstein

What happens when we speak into the geography? The ecology? These are moving and raw questions Aidan Koch asks of us as we contemplate this resplendent take on where we belong in the landscapes that hold us. This genre-blurring collection is dreamy and poetic and will stay with you.
—Aimee Nezhukumatatuil

Aidan Koch’s new book Spiral and Other Stories reminded me of the beautiful interconnectedness of all things. The book’s pace is one of measured contemplation. ‘Spiral,’ the longest of the graphic stories, captures subtle shifts in a strained relationship and follows one character’s search for meaning and direction in life.
—Maegan Dolan, Artforum

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