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Helen is an amateur bird watcher and naturalist who lives in a rural community in Wales. When local farmer Bill tells Helen that a "rare bird" named Emrys killed himself at Cuddig farm, she decides to investigate. One of the dogs at the farm tells her, by way of explanation, that Emrys "had no feathers and couldn’t fly." She plucks an old cosmetic kit from a dumpster and discovers it belonged to Emrys. Inventorying the kit's contents, she finds a spent .12 gauge shotgun shell. Her attempt to learn more about Emrys turns into a journey of self-discovery and ultimately a hard-fought reconciliation with the world — as it is. Carol Swain's Gast is the rare kind of contemporary graphic novel that critics are conjuring when they exult over the promise of the art form — a philosophically mature vision, uniquely executed by an artist wholly in control of her craft. In Gast, Helen's inner life is slowly revealed through a mixture of naturalistic detail and phantasmagoric occurrences.
Praise for Carol Swain:
"Swain is an under-appreciated but frequently powerful, always intriguing cartoonist." – The Comics Reporter
"The Raymond Carver of British comics." — Time Out
"One of the most unique and compelling styles in comics." — TIME
"Dark and full of life, like soil... [Swain's comics are] a perfect example of what modern comics are capable of if only they try." – Alan Moore