Review: CS by Inés Estrada

I’ve spent the past few weeks pushing through a backlog of books that I’ve been slowly accumulating since TCAF, and I wanted to step away from that a bit to focus on some of the small press things I’ve been reading recently. A recent acquisition is Inés Estrada’s new comic CS, a 16 page mini risograph in neon pink and green.

CS is billed as something of a micro/macro love story – it features an unnamed protagonist living on the skin of a person she admires. A mosquito bite becomes a route of entry for our protagonist, who is eventually ambushed by what appears to be cells from the person’s immune system. The comic is part comedy, part tragedy, all wrapped up in a surreal vision of the human body.

One of the ideas that Estrada toys with in CS is the visceralness of relationships. We often get so invested into our partners or lovers that we have the tendency to get consumed. A part of us changes when we let ourselves go; we feed off of that person, we fall into that person like we fall into bed.

Estrada also seems to be saying that being so fully invested, so absorbed in these types of relationships can be unhealthy. Our main character dies a horrible death, all the while saying to the void, “I’m not afraid […] I’m where I want to be.” That theme of death inside the relationship is really powerful – is Estrada saying we let ourselves fall into these relationships too quickly? Or is she contemplating the loss of self that accompanies these types of relationships?

Estrada’s illustration is earthy and not afraid to be cartoony at the same time. Some of my favorite panels were of the protagonist falling down the rabbit hole – there’s a sense of seriousness coupled with a whimsy that permeates the comic.

A final point perplexes me – the main character seems to be in two places at once throughout CS, sitting beside her companion while simultaneously being digested by him. I think this echoes earlier points, but I like the mirrored visuals, the idea that we can be such a small part of a person and yet be right next to them.

Notes: My scanner can’t handle neon, so I’ve used some publicly available scans for the images of the comic. I think I’m in love with neon colored riso-printing, but it doesn’t make for very good blog content.

You can check out Inés Estrada’s website here and she tumbls at inechi. Estrada has been a contributor to kuš, among other publications. CS was published by Sacred Prism, the zine publishing vision of Ian Harker (tumblr: sacredprism). You can buy Estrada’s comics at Gatosurio.

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