A Doll's Tale of Misery and Liberation
"Querida" is an illustrated narrative about a puppeteer who constructs a female puppet which he has act out erotic scenes as a pastime. She is shaped in the likeness of his truelove, his cousin who passed away untimely. An exceptional piece of work, her limbs and eyes are masterpieces, crowned by her hair which is made from the human hair of the cousin herself. The puppet wakes to conscious and sensual perception and discovers that certain circumstances enable her to let her doll's body actually come to life for limited periods of time. Soon she finds herself on a colorful and rolling at times dangerous journey, a Coming of Age, leaving her naïve innocence and weakness behind, struggling for autonomy and self-determination. Ultimately her contempt for the hated puppeteer leads to a murderous showdown.
The book evokes in mind the mythological story of Pygmalion and Galatea along with the Sandman novel by Hoffmann. Nevertheless, the main text for Querida to follow is The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. The whole book pays homage to this famous tale on the level of its cast: the doll becoming a human, the talking cricket, the fairy with blue hair, the deceptive duo of a fox and a cat, the coachman, Mangiafuoco, etc.
While Querida’s dreamy visions and metamorphoses of shapes and sizes in the tale unavoidably bring to mind the books of Lewis Carroll, one also finds eye twinkling quotes from The Wizard of Oz and E. A. Poe.
Most of the episodes were written by the Spanish film director and playwright Carlos Atanes.
Interspersed are cameo chapters written by other authors. It especially was a great pleasure to work with Madison Young, a pioneer of the feminist porn movement who contributed four lovely chapters.
The illustrative part of the book is represented by black and white or red depictions of the doll. The first letters of each chapter are decorated with her figure as well. Curiously, van Rijn's manner lies in portraying women as liberated and independent creatures, much closer to Lilith than to Eve. Unlike the heroine, the character of these images doesn't look helpless in any scene but aggressively sexual.
It is a highly erotic Graphic Novel, with an essential amount of text, about 170 pages with 50 full page illustrations. The chapters are divided into main action scenes bringing on the storyline and alternating intermediate scenes that hold flashbacks, foresights, visions and reflections of the doll, leading to a surreal Lynch-like narrative tone.
“Outstanding … an absolutely seamless, yet fragmented piece of flowing fabulist poetry; a transgressive fable … The story is so blunt, yet contains enough poetry where the reader can project their own emotions and meaning to it.” Gabriel Hart