I fell in love with Poof!, the graphic novel by Line Gamache, when the heroine’s dog Kiki mistook an umbilical cord for a chain of sausage links. Before this point, of course, I certainly liked the book (even like-liked it, as we used to say in grammar school) for many reasons: a talking dog, an imaginative plot, and surreal artwork being chief among them. But it was the umbilical cord — and the author/artist’s fearless efforts to “go there” — that ultimately won me over.
The plot of Poof! revolves around a loss of inspiration. Or perhaps “loss” isn’t the right word, as protagonist Lily’s inspiration (curiously named “Hildie”) leaps from her throat after a bout of what at first glance appeared to be a stomach bug. When Hildie hops a train bound for La-la Land, Lily has no choice but to follow. The result is a madcap chase through the wilds of Gamache’s imagination — part Picasso, part Yellow Submarine — including (but not limited to) a ride in a hot-air balloon with a pair of giant mice and a brief commute with a pair of sad circus clowns in a tractor-trailer.
The irony of all of this, of course, is that for a book on the loss of inspiration, Poof! may well be the most imaginative graphic novel I’ve read in ages.