Author: Carol Swain
Context: In Gast, a mixture of phantasmagoric incidents and naturalistic detail slowly reveal the inner life of Helen. Helen is an amateur naturalist and bird watcher residing in Wales in a rural community. On one occasion she is told by Bill that Emrys, a rare bird killed itself at the Cuddig farm. Helen undertakes an investigation.
Synopsis: Helen an eleven year old goes for a trip to the Welsh countryside. Here she finds that she is able to communicate with the domesticated and wild animals inhabiting the rolling landscapes. All the animals talk to Helen about the death of a rare bird living close-by. Actually, the death turns out to be of Emrys, a farmer with gender dysphoria (who dyed his hair, wore women’s clothes, continued to maintain his male identity and also out of fear). He commits suicide, the reason being his failing fortunes.
At the farm, a dog explains to her that Emrys couldn’t fly as he had no feathers. He finds a cosmetic kit from a dumpster and discovers that it belonged to the rare bird. Helen finds a spent 12 gauge shotgun shell which conducting an inventory of the things in the cosmetic kit. In the process of studying more about Emrys, Helen treads on a self discovery journey and finally ends up with a hard-fought reconciliation with the world as it is.
The graphic novel with profound empathy presents an ultimately unforgiving yet gentle look at the ways in which those who are not able to bring themselves to fit in can be broken down so easily by this world they live in.
With no real victim or real killer, the graphic novel is more like a murder mystery and the point is the investigation itself conducted by Helen. In the process she learns not only about this Emrys, a secretly much-loved person but also about death and life. The author’s willingness to gradually take things and her drawings in descriptive angles does ensure a thoroughly unique experience for the reader. Carol Swain with her complete control over her craft has executed her work uniquely with the most philosophically mature vision.
Other works by the author:
1993 – Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress
1996 – Race Versus Class: The New Affirmative Action Debate
2002 – The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration
2003 – Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism in America
2007 – Debating Immigration
2011 – Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise
2016 – Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds (Carol M. Swain; Steven Feazel)
2016 – Who’s Stealing Our Kids?: Revealing the Hidden Agenda to Secularize Our Children (Carol M. Swain; Steven Feazel)