Fish + Chocolate, comic-book author Kate Brown’s latest graphic novel is an often-disturbing three-part exploration of motherhood.
A far cry from rosy cheeks, baby bumps and smug parenting, each tale is shrouded in themes of regret, grief and loss, providing modern-day fables of what it means to be a mother.
The first story, The Piper Man, is a disturbing modern take on the Pied Piper. The craggy-faced, straggly-haired loner (the ‘Piper) becomes surrounded by hoards of mesmerised children , standing like a zombified army on a desolate field – much to the horror of their parents.
The Cherry Tree, our second story, highlights the struggles and frustrations of a mother’s need to create and work, and how to balance that with the pressures of looking after a daughter. The final story, Matryosha, is perhaps the most disturbing of all, following a woman’s grief at having lost her baby in bold, unapologetic detail.
Brown says ‘I was 25 when I started on Fish + Chocolate and I’d grown out of a lot of comics aimed at teen girls which had previously been my main staple.’
She adds, ‘I as interested in portraying characters who weren’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. I’m very conscious of that when creating characters for my stories.
‘Fish + Chocolate is not directly autobiographical -I’m not a mother, for instance – but the themes of loss, rejection and struggling with one’s deepest fears is something that many are touched by in their lives.’
Fish + Chocolate is published by Self Made Hero on 22 September, priced £14.99