Published by Joan, an imprint of Allen & Unwin
Text hand lettered by Sarah Firth
Cover and text designed by Sarah Firth and Joanna Hunt
The publication of this book by a mainstream Australian publishing house is significant. It is recognition of something teachers and parents have always known – that people learn, see things and process information and ideas in different ways.
When the big business of publishing takes that on board it’s progress.
Sarah Firth is a comic book artist, a graphic novelist and graphic describer/recorder. Eventually Everything Connects is her first graphic novel. It is a collection of eight visual essays about things of universal interest and concern: joy, wanting, sex, home, the state of the world, perception, individuality and how we as individuals fit into a bigger picture.
The philosophising is from inside to out, the author using herself as the exemplar to muse on questions of identity, purpose and connection.
In a world where image bombardment is something to be managed by all, a book of this sort must be arresting and thought provoking to attract attention. This one will.
The creator of the work is astute in her selection of subject matter and skilled in the realisation of ideas both graphically and verbally. This is a fluent and accessible work of social philosophy.
While each essay can be consumed as a single read, there is a strand of connection taking us from the simple joys of being to the need for us to see the lives of others, indeed other non-human beings, when we make decisions.
To begin, Sarah refers to ‘a simple moment of pure love and joy, trust nurtured through routine over the years’. To finish she reminds us that, ‘It is through encounter that we come to know each other.’
Certainly this work enables us to perceive the world through the graphic novelist’s eyes. It helps us understand how some people, process the world around them in ways which are different but equally as beautiful and valid as our own.
In a world so much in need of listening and acknowledging the diversity of human existence, we also need the freshness of eyes and exuberance of spirit we see in this collection of essays. Allen & Unwin’s new imprint Joan seeks to do just that under the leadership of Nakkiah Lui.
According to its website, the imprint will publish radical, inclusive and rebellious works, creating a space for ‘voices that get pushed to the fringes’. The goal is to create ‘limitless dreams’ for us all. And how can we argue with that intention?
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my review copy and Sarah for an interesting chat about the book and why it is important that graphic novels are finding a place in the Australian publishing context.