The point of Hope Larson’s comics is never the destination but the journey. Raina Telgemeier calls them “visual poetry”, just the right description.
“Gray Horses” opens with travel, as French exchange student Noemie reaches her new city, taking the subway from the airport to her rooming house. While she adjust to her surroundings, she dreams of a girl named Marcy riding a wild talking horse.
Noemie is shy and cautions about the US, however, she makes friend with a neighbor, a girl who’s in her art history class and lives at the bakery across the street. Her new friend makes the most wonderful animals from bread, and although she seems happy in her situation, she longs to move back to her native country, Mexico. Throughout the story, someone follows Noemie around and takes pictures of her. In the beginning, she is disturbed by it, but once she understands the circumstances, she starts to reconsider. As the book progresses, we learn more about what happened before Noemie came to the US, her discoveries within the city, and how various symbolic elements echo themselves in her life. It is a coming-of-age tale about acceptance and discovery, gloriously and unique told. A few first day in US, she lacks of confidence and her dreams make she feel insecure. But Noemie seems to be dream someone else’s dream throughout the book It is only late in the book that the dream story meets up with Noemie’s waking life in a subtle and unexplained way which adds a slight element of the fantastical to the book. Noemie keeps a photograph of her ex-boyfriend. It acts upon her, keeping her linked to her home and separated from new love. I think, it is a certain feeling for anyone who has a situation like Noemie, specially a girl. She just a teenage, had just broken up with her boyfriend in Dijon and so far, she studies abroad ( I assume they broke up in anticipation of her oversea study).
Beside that, you will be surprise with the way that writer created. Larson’s style is especially pleasing for the way she represented a plethora of normally unseen phenomena, such as sound, light, wind, thoughts. She uses traditional comics icons in singular ways that are evocative and effective. Larson focuses on her characters’ sensory impressions, and not just visual imagery — she loves sound effects (and integrates them into the lines and composition of her drawings), and even tries to give hints of scent and taste and texture. Anna introduces herself by noting that she lives in a bakery across the street from Noemie’s apartment; her word balloon extends into an arrow, pointing to a little spot illustration of a building shaped like a loaf of bread, with smoke coming from its chimney (we understand from this that Noemie has a scent association with the bakery) and a…