Review: Yazar & Arkadaş by Lale Westvind

I was first introduced to Lale Westvind’s comics with Breakdown Press’ recent release of HAX, a remarkable silent comic with an intensity I’ve not seen in other recent work. Yazar & Arkadaş is a 28-page risograph comic with navy ink on pink paper and a two color risographed cover on heavy cream-colored paper. A writer, Yazar, is visited by a friend named Arkadaş. Arkadaş finds that Yazar has been writing a book for an extraterrestrial race called the Road Builders. Yazar has been given a path by the Road Builders to access the early Earth so that she can write its story. While in this primordial realm, Arkadaş learns about the Heida, heads with tentacle hair that decapitate the bodied and use their bodies for their own carnal means. Things spiral into myth and legend in the time it takes to boil water for tea.


I’ve seen writers compare Westvind’s line to those of both Golden Age and Bronze Age comics creators, and I can see the influence.Each drawing has an a kinetics that is so finely realized and so immediately obvious. Westvind’s posing is so dramatic, her line is so energized. Yazar & Arkadaş feels like a book that could electrocute you.


Westvind’s characters also have an undeniable physicality. The women depicted are muscular and dense, their movement frenetic. Westvind’s art seems to capture the air moving, her characters fidgeting; the stillness of the single image is blurred by Westvind’s intensity. In some ways Yazar & Arkadaş utilizes many of the same themes in Westvind’s other work, but here, the motion, the wildness, is all in service of a more cognitive end; Westvind contemplating the nature of desire.


Yazar & Arkadaş seems to grapple with the idea of desire and the forms it takes. As the comic progresses, the characters and the action become more elemental, closer and closer to the metaphysical. And as the action becomes more spiritual or metaphysical, the desire of the characters moves up Maslow’s Hierarchy, from the corporeal desires of sex to the self-actualization of the great seer’s Great Gash of Wisdom.


Yazar & Arkadaş also has a spiraling quality. The story of Yazar and Arkadaş leads to the story of the Road Builders, which leads to the story of the Heida, which leads to the story of a great seer’s desire to be free of her body. Each step moves us closer to that final form, and when that last transformation occurs, the readers (and Yazar & Arkadaş) are awoken from reverie and brought back into the natural world. How far down does the rabbit hole go? Westvind gives us a taste.


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