Comic Review: Evelyn Evelyn

Evelyn Evelyn
A Tragic Tale In Two Tomes
Written By Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley
Illustrated By Cynthia Von Buhler
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 21, 2011
Cover Price: $24.99

When Amanda Palmer is involved in a project, you can always be sure the end result will be something fresh and unique. Ms. Palmer (some of you might know her as Mrs. Neil Gaiman) and Jason Webley have come together to bring us Evelyn Evelyn, the story of a musical set of conjoined twins. After the two released an album last year that tells the same story, Dark Horse has now published Palmer and Webley’s vision in hardcover, with haunting art by Cynthia Von Buhler.

Orphaned in extraordinary circumstances within a half hour of their birth, Eva and Lyn Neville bounce from home to home throughout their troubled lives. They spend time in a chicken coup, a shady lodge for young girls, become musicians in the circus, and finally work in a motel. Friends and enemies are encountered along the way, but no matter the circumstance, their bond with each other remains unbreakable. At one point, one of their caretakers loses track of which twin is which, and they eventually begin to simply call themselves “Evelyn.”

The manner in which the book is narrated is unique in and of itself. The book’s prose is lettered in all capitals and is conveyed in short statements of bare fact. There is no “creative liberty” taken with the storytelling, no spin towards a certain perspective. This evokes a feeling of isolation throughout, one meant to mirror the overall experience had by the sisters throughout their formative years. Jumping from place to place, and having little time to form any relationships outside of themselves, what little back and forth we see between them is also short and to the point.

Von Buhler’s artwork is in rich contrast to the narration. She uses bold colors to tell her side of the story, and is far more expressive in nature. Though the images are at times horrific, they still retain a childlike quality. We are truly seeing these strange happenings through the eyes of young, innocent twin girls.

Palmer and Webley’s dedication to the sisters’ story is clear on every page of the book. On the surface, the Neville sisters’ story can get lost in its own macabre telling. Underneath, however, Evelyn Evelyn is about seeking acceptance in a world where it is increasingly difficult to hide the things that make you different. In each of their sorted situations, the girls try to latch onto someone or something that makes them feel accepted, only to see it taken from them for some reason or another. In the end, they find the acceptance by looking within and embracing what it is that makes them unique.

Evelyn Evelyn is itself a fascinating character study, but when paired with the album of the same name produced by Webley and Palmer, it becomes a multidimensional experience that will touch the reader’s heart as well as give them pause when they consider their own individuality. Casting off the naysayers and skeptics, Palmer and Webley have made a statement with their cross-platform project by reveling in what it is that makes the two of them unique.

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