Glyn Dillon marks his return to comics with the stunning release of THE NAO OF BROWN, a graphic novel that is shockingly different to his previous work with Vertigo. A sweeping story of a “hafu”(half Japanese and half English) young woman by the name of Nao, Dillon explores her unique form of OCD, one in which she constantly has violent and gruesome fantasies of deaths around. At the core of Nao’s self exploration is a search for perfect love, and what she finds is that the real world is as warped and convoluted as her own morbid imaginings.
THE NAO OF BROWN reads just as complex as it looks. As a narrative, it’s hard to compartmentalize whether it’s a story simply about OCD, romance, death, spirituality, or perhaps the unique cultural blending of Japan and London. In terms of its art, Dillon makes his grand return in what can only be described as a visual spectacle. Personally, I think there’s something very tantalizing about the use of pencils rather than only inking, and Dillon uses different techniques of illustration to appropriately build the multiple worlds within THE NAO OF BROWN. Nao’s own reality is a softer, watercolored and human-esque presentation that is vividly immersed in the colors of Nao’s trademark red. Throughout the graphic novel, there is also a fictional fairytale by Gil Ichiyama (another clever “hafu” play with Miyazaki and Moebius in mind), which appears as a hyper-computer generated illustration, with a clarity that is posed in opposition to Nao’s own world. Dillon embodies Nao’s overactive mind through his art, allowing the story to glide through temporality and fantastical realms. Moreover, Dillon quite accurately captures the vivacious landscape of his own contemporary London, notably with Soho’s Playlounge toy store, where Nao works and is often another site of an east meets west pop-cultural collision.
Dillon, whose latest project included doing visuals for Gorillaz, has been keeping his comic followers up to date with both his Twitter and his blog, often uploading sneak peeks of THE NAO OF BROWN. First published by UK’s Self Made Hero, the US release is slated for this October. This just might be one of the best releases this year.
Many thanks to Abrams Books who passed along this extended preview.
ALSO, if you happen to be around London come September 22nd, the folks at Self Made Hero and the Literary Dinners team have planned a Nao-themed dinner party, complete with Glyn Dillon himself. Check it out here.