Walk Me to the Corner by Anneli Furmark and translated by Hanna Stromberg from Drawn+Quarterly is a romance story like few others. As in her previous work, Red Winter detailing complexities of relationships in the shifting economic landscape of the 1970s, Furmark’s style presents the passion of the genre well. Walk Me to the Corner goes even further to show the difficult nature of feelings and complex situations that are usually glossed over in the dreamier versions of love stories.
Walk Me to the Corner explores the story of Elise, a fifty-something mother suddenly finding herself in a state she has never quite experienced before. She has been living a contented life with her husband, Henrik, while their boys have moved on with their own lives. Then Elise receives a text from Dagmar, whom she met earlier at an event and about whom she feels a wholly new set of emotions. Elise is suddenly bubbly and awkward with Dagmar and afterward scrutinizes herself in the bathroom mirror, “like an insecure teenager, she questioned it all.”
Elise still loves Henrik; there is no question to that as Furmark details Henrik’s hands through Elise’s view, “how full of care they were when they held her. Or when they held little seedlings, cats, dough, screws, nuts, firewood.” Yet with Dagmar, Elise has a whole new kind of love. Elise reflects that, “I always thought it was so exaggerated in movies. And on TV, when people sort of rip the clothes off each other. I never believed it… But I get it now, Dagmar.”
In Walk Me to the Corner, as in real life, the situation is complicated. Elise does not want to leave Henrik, nor does Dagmar want to leave her partner and their daughters. In fact, Dagmar thinks it best to keep Elise a secret from them and just enjoy one another when they are able to go away for trips. Elise does confide in Henrik, speaking in therapy to better understand each other and themselves, but their relationship changes when Henrik, too, has feelings for another. A happenstance meeting turns everyone’s lives into something completely new in a matter of months, illustrated by Elise having to update her many statuses with the census board in a follow-up interview.
Just as the story of Walk Me to the Corner is complex, so is Furmark’s delicate artistry. The panels have no lined borders, just perceived edges where the background ends and the white page begins. Tight angles give the sensation of looking as if in a memory or a dream, seeing moments where Elise works to pull herself together in a life she thought she had already thoroughly understood. A sequence of Elise attempting to fold moving boxes has panels stacked on top of one another with a flow that captures perfectly the chaos of the moment.
Colors, too, serve in the flowing dreamlike sensation of reading Walk Me to the Corner. They bleed from one item to the next to show how everything is connected, such as a lover blending into the bedding where she sleeps. This makes contrasts and firm edges stand out, showing that there are bold distinctions in our lives that make will themselves known. Unfortunately, as we see through Elise’s eyes, not everything is clear cut as we think it should be.