The Lie and How We Told It (2018)



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After a chance encounter, two formerly close friends try to salvage whatever is left of their decaying relationship. They are in for an awkward, painful night that leaves them feeling lonelier, more uncertain, and more estranged than ever before. Parrish’s first graphic novel for Fantagraphics is a visual tour de force, always in the service of the author’s ever-prevalent themes: navigating queer desire, masculinity, fear, and the ever-in-flux state of friendships.

From: Fantagraphics Books

Notes on This Title

The focal male character does not identify as queer, but engages in sexual activities with other men.


2018 Ignatz Nominee for Outstanding Artist
2018 Ignatz Nominee for Outstanding Graphic Novel
2018 Ignatz Nominee for Promising New Talent
2018 Ignatz Nominee for Outstanding Artist
2018 Ignatz Nominee for Outstanding Graphic Novel
2018 Ignatz Nominee for Promising New Talent
31st Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Graphic Novel


“Parrish uses two distinct and complementary styles here. Their normal mode is a colorful painted look that’s halfway between graffiti and street art; in its dimensions, perspective, and use of color, it’s highly reminiscent of the work of Fernando Botero. The small heads, oversized bodies, and large, expressive hands create a sense of emotional depth and physical movement that drives the story along when the dialogue starts to flag. The use of painted color is absolutely lovely, especially in indoor scenes where the characters are backgrounded into their surroundings, as if they are becoming part of a mural we read as it goes. Even more effective is the second style, a finely drawn and precisely delineated ink drawing approach that is every bit as stark and intense as Parrish’s paintwork is loose and inviting. This style appears in One Step Inside Doesn’t Mean You Understand, a book-within-the-book by one “Blumf McQueen” that Cleary finds in a bush. It tells its own story of desire curdling into contempt and emotion robbed of expression that both mirrors and exacerbates the main narrative, and the choice to illustrate it in this way is Parrish’s surest and most confident move. It throws their entire dynamic into relief in a way the story itself could not hope to do.” (Source: The Comics Journal)


“In lovingly painted pages of comics art, with black and white intermissions, Australian cartoonist Parrish tells a deceptively simple story of friends grown apart, who run into one another by chance and spend an evening catching up. Cleary and Tim bump into each other at a grocery check-out and reconnect. Over the course of the evening, as much is concealed as is revealed, but what is left at the end is the stark understanding that, at the threshold of adulthood, one person has made emotionally honest choices and the other struggles with his sexuality and with his own heart. Interwoven with this gorgeously colored tale is another, more austere story, an illustrated novella drawn in satisfyingly precise black line, attributed to ‘Blumf Mcqueen’ and dedicated to ‘pure, unconditional, everlasting love.'” (Source: Publishers Weekly)


“Parrish handles the characters’ voices deftly, but The Lie might have felt slight if not for a weighty slap of capital-S Style. The book is a big hardcover with the front cover and endpapers bedecked with kaleidoscopic crowd scenes in full color, which continues throughout much of the interior. Parrish employs standard panel structure, but in every other way departs from the usual, combining a wide range of hues, unexpected tricks with opacity and perspective and dense, shaggy shading. The characters are ever-shifting zones of pigment. Heads and hands, in particular, are never stable — the former might shrink to the size of golf balls, while the latter become huge, clumsy paws.” (Source: NPR)


The Comics Journal: ““That’s Just What My Life Looks Like”: A Tommi Parrish Interview

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