Domestic Bliss is a mostly silent graphic novel series by Gwen Turner about Bliss, a cat, and her owners the Hobnobs. They live a fairly routine existence, until one day when Bliss stows away with Mr. Hobnob as he goes to a flea market of sorts. While there, Bliss wanders off and into the woods. The rest is about Bliss’ journey home as the Hobnobs try to go about their daily life in the wake of their missing cat. As I mentioned, the comic is almost entirely silent. There is very little dialogue, so—as you can imagine—the heft of the storytelling lands squarely on the shoulders of Turner’s artwork. An intimidating predicament, to be sure, but one that Turner rises up to expertly. I don’t know how she makes it seem so easy, but her stories are very easy to follow, but still layered with enough visual motifs and complexity to provide a very engaging story. What, at first, seems like it could be nothing more than a simple children’s parable quickly becomes a more enthralling adventure story that seems to be building toward some fine domestic/social commentary.
Now, I wouldn’t say that Domestic Bliss blows the doors off domesticity or anything, but I never found myself yawning at the prospects of where the story seems to be going—Turner includes brief preview sections at the end of each issue. The comic approaches topics that are tried and true, but Turner is able to present them to us very clearly through her point of view, which provides some very cool sequences. There is a game of telephone in the second issue that is not only really cool to look at, but it also provides a bunch of exposition without departing too much from the mostly silent pace Turner sets right from the first pages of issue one.
I wouldn’t mind just staring at some of these pages for long periods of time. That is where the strength in Domestic Bliss lies. Gwen Turner’s artwork is very evocative, from her simplest image to the most complex, she seems to have a clear and firm grasp on what she wants to do with the artwork of Domestic Bliss, and I think that it’s working. This book’s got style.
TL;DR: Domestic Bliss is detailed and concise in its silent storytelling. For fans of well-paced artwork, I’d highly recommend it.
Domestic Bliss is written, drawn, and published by Gwen Turner. Both available issues can be bought from Turner’s website. If you want to pick them up in person and you're attending TCAF in a few weeks, Fanfare/Ponent Mon will have some at their booth.
A review PDF of Domestic Bliss issues 1 and 2 were obtained via the author.