I was not aware of Domitille Collardey before SPX, but I fell in love with the large, whimsical (if not foreboding) cover of What Had Happened Was… I, a book that really emphasises the comic descriptor “sequential art.” The book is autobiographical, but not in an “overarching plot” sort of way. Instead, the stories told dance around smaller tales and non sequiturs, all of them culminating in an interesting profile of the artist. Domitille Collardey was absolutely lovely to meet, and she spoke to us at SPX in an interview that will go live soon.
The word I keep coming back to is “whimsical,” and I think the art embodies this. The colors, even the black, appear to be watercolor, or at the very least flowing. The art is most certainly charming, and the voice of the character in the book (ostensibly her) comes out strongly through her depiction, even before my face-to-face with Domitille. This watercolor (or at least watercolor inspired) character design influences the story as well. In WHHW I, there is one story that sticks out, one that appears to cast a younger Domitille as a bat. For some reason–I think it might be the size of her text–you can hear Domitille the younger in a distinct tone of voice, compared to Domitille the older. It’s very skillful, and left me with a wide smile while reading it. Sadly, she did not have any of II available, but as there is no overarching plot between editions, I am more upset that I don’t have more examples of her art.
WHHW III is a different beast all together. It’s a fold out that would make a beautiful framed piece on a wall. It’s got no story, no rhyme or reason other than a series of unrelated images. Taken all together, it forms an interesting look into Domitille’s creative mind. In our interview, she described making WHHW III as being a way to get it all out of her head. The form factor–especially the high quality paper present in both I and III–is unique and stands out. The only bad thing I have to say about these are that I don’t know where to keep them! That framing idea might be the trick, though.’
TL;DR: Whimsical, gorgeous, and unique. What Had Happened Was I and III are among my favorite and most unique pulls from SPX. I look forward to finding II.
What Had Happened Was editions I and III are self-published by Domitille Collardey, and I urge you to check out more of her work on her website.