if a clearly delineated story is important to your reading experience, Square Eyes is not the book for you... a spiky tale... Mill’s graphics, clearly influenced by manga, zoom in dizzyingly on details, then fling us into vast industrial landscapes. Augmented reality images bewilderingly overlay seamy real-life; dialogue is terse and full of invented jargon. This is not a book that you can race through and if you understand what happens at the end, you’re doing better than me — but it certainly is a wild ride.
There’s more serious satire too: this is a place where people not involved in “growth activity” are moved on, a city continually destroyed and rebuilt by giant, kraken-like 3D printers. The absence of any checks on machines or corporations runs through Square Eyes, and there’s a notable lack of authority figures. Instead, the city’s inhabitants seem to be either freelance tech-hipsters or the downtrodden masses. Though this can make the book feel a little myopic, it also conveys its message: when everyone lives in their own separate virtual playground, shared responsibility and compassion are distant concepts. Whatever the result of Fin and George’s quest, the deeply flawed society they inhabit shows little sign of changing. This immersive, inventive graphic novel offers its own brand of escapism, but anger bubbles beneath its beautifully rendered surface.
It would be worth buying Square Eyes for her monochrome depictions of brutalist architecture alone, images in which she manages to make huge expanses of concrete seem both solidly cliff-like and unfathomably ghostly. So much sheer, bloody work has gone into this book, and in our instant culture, an environment it also happens to excoriate, it fairly takes the breath away.