The Lady’s Murder by Eliza Frye

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The Lady’s Murder
by Eliza Frye

tlmEliza Frye has an overwhelming talent for constructing beautiful images.  I sat next to her at APE in 2009 and was totally awestruck by her work.  Dumbstruck even.  Still, fans kept flocking to her table, chatting her up, and I wondered ‘How does anyone know what to say to someone whose artwork is so goddamn gorgeous?’  Fandom is an art all its own, I tell you.

Her background as an illustrator and character artist comes across strongly in projects like The Lady’s Murder.  In it, she takes a rather sexy poem from S. Albert Chatman and uses his idea to build a bony story structure from which her gorgeous art hangs lush and wild.

Frye’s art is the meat of this piece.  The story is an extension of the poem, yes, but the intention of the comic isn’t to flesh out the poem’s core plot, but to flesh out the subject of the poem — a woman who is dangerous and lovely named Marie Madeline.  Her story is told in a series of vignettes styled as conversations between an anonymous, silent interviewer — the reader — and the people from her life.

These former friends of hers are mostly lascivious men.  When they remember Marie, their recollections feel quite voiceless and hollow, merely stating what she does or where she goes.  They say nothing about who she is or what she wants.  Everything you learn about Marie Madeline, the woman who captured so many hearts, could be summarized as a crude observations of her body.  Still, that’s where Frye shines.  She draws lady bodies like nobody’s business.

This book serves as an incredibly superficial definition of one girl who led a pretty fascinating life.  It’s too bad that the book only shows one side of her, it would have been interesting to see into Marie’s personality.  Perhaps it will take a third author, drawing from Frye’s work, to take Marie’s story to the next level.

Most comic books strive to become multi-layered character-driven stories, but get trapped by their very ambition.  For that reason, it’s easy to appreciate the straight-forwardness of this piece.  Frye’s interpretation of Chatman’s poem is the one that happily permits ample freedom for her to demonstrate her artistic prowess.  She didn’t let the story bog her down and as a result the story of The Lady’s Murder is almost entirely functional and allows her pure ambition to create a beautiful comic book shine through the project.

It’s clear that what Frye relishes the act of knowing a character’s form from all angles.  And she’s amazing at it.  Each page showed a new aspect of Marie Madeline that was alluring and interesting.

If you can find the lovely limited-edition screen-printed hard copy, currently sold out, it will be among the jewels in your collection.  Or if you just want to read the story and see Frye’s gorgeous art, she has posted the entire book online which you can read for free:

Sarah Morean

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2 Comments to “The Lady’s Murder by Eliza Frye”

  1. Eliza | February 7th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks for this! I wish we had been able to chat more at APE, it was lovely neighboring with you though.

    I just wanted to point one thing out- Sean Chatman wrote that poem in response to my comic, not the other way around. I didn’t realize this was perhaps unclear, but he’s a lyricist and wrote his piece a couple months after I finished publishing TLM online.

    Anyway, thanks again for the write up and hope to see you around more in the future!

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