Happy publication day to Rachael Ball, whose startling graphic novel The Inflatable Woman, has been released by Bloomsbury Publishing today.
Iris (or balletgirl-42 as she's known on the internet dating circuit) is a zookeeper looking for love when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Overnight, her life becomes populated with a carnival of daunting hospital characters. Despite the attempts of her friends – Maud, Granma Suggs, Larry the Monkey and a group of singing penguins – to comfort her, Iris's fears begin to encircle her until all she has to cling to is the attention of a lighthouse keeper called sailor_buoy_39.
The Inflatable Woman combines magic realism with the grit of everyday life to create a poignant and surreal journey inside the human psyche.
“Rachael Ball illustrates a world in soft pencil full of pint-sized nurses, musical penguins and romantic sailors. Her world is so magical you can almost forget the ever present cancer lurking in the blackness that surrounds the panels. This stunning debut graphic novel slips in and out of dreams, poetry and nightmares beautifully illustrating the power of imagination and the unconscious when confronted with the harshest realities of life” – Karrie Fransman, author of The House That Groaned
“Rachael Ball's magical drawings reflect both the fantasy and mundanity of the everyday. She presents the reader with a world of astonishing wonder and beauty through marks of the ordinary humble pencil, inviting us to look at our own lives anew” – Nicola Streeten, author of Billy, Me & You
"Inspiring. Poignant. Wonderfully unconventional." - The Sunday Telegraph
"In her debut book cartoonist Rachael Ball joins the likes of Mary Talbot and Una in the emerging trend of translating complex stories of women’s rights and health into graphic novel form. Aside from beautiful artwork, the biggest accomplishment of these books is their concise handling of vast subjects while intensifying their power and emotion. Despite its length The Inflatable Woman tells a story with even fewer words than others. It follows Iris – or balletgirl_42 as she calls herself online – as she endures breast cancer. Almost fully drawn in pencil, there is a stark, moving realism in the dowdy central character’s plight. Despite this, the story moves seamlessly from harsh realities into dreams, nightmares and fantasy, reflecting both the whirlwind surrealism of Iris’s illness and the world that opens up to her as she enters remission. Ball’s is a welcome addition to a growing genre that is making both the graphic novel and women’s issues reach a wider audience, in an accessible way, while providing readers with good reason to hold on to the book as an object." - Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue North