Regailia by Eliza Frye

A few months ago I mentioned a book on Kickstarter by a young woman who I met briefly at Wizard World Chicago.  Regalia was a collection of her best work to date including her Eisner Award nominated short story called The Lady’s Murder.  I backed the project and was thrilled to see that it had been funded!  Well, I just received the book in the mail and have finished reading.  Wow.  Just wow.

The book feels intensely personal.  It is a tricky needle to thread with stories like these.  All too easily they can become very much like the ramblings found scribbled in the notebook or diary of a teenage girl.  Personal, but trite and self-indulgent.  That is not the case here.  While personal stories can often feel trite, these all have a polish about them that really captures the powerful level of craft on display in these pages.  She has a set of skills unlike anything I have seen in many years, and there is never a point that the craft overwhelms the work.  I easily put this up with works like Craig Thompson’s Blankets or I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura.  Deeply emotional and resonant, and still very entertaining.  I would be lying if I said that all of the stories had an effect on me.  Realistically, only about half were going to be of the type that would speak to me, and I think that is all most of us could hope for, people are too different to be touched by everything we read.  But for every person that reads this book, there will be people who think that stories like The Lady’s Murder are amazing, and others that wont even finish it.  This kind of work is like that.  Personally, I prefer it when some of the stories are there for someone else to enjoy.  If I like every story in a collection, the chances are that the book is not very deep or strongly written.  The fact that there are stories I didn’t feel strongly about means that there are bits of this book that WILL strike a chord across a wider spectrum or readers.

The design and presentation of this book deserves some mention too.  This does not feel at all like some crappy small-press first collection from someone you have probably never heard of.  While it is likely that Ms Frye’s name and work will be new to the majority of readers, I would wager that a lot of the people who pick up this collection will wonder why they have not heard of her.  The style of the collection, as much as the selections in it, are first-rate.  This package feels like the result of having done this before.  From the binding to the books overall design, this is a nice book to hold and look at.  Visually, this book is amazing.  The varied approaches to the art and design of the stories is really something to look at.  A fine mix of medium used and a very different eye feel to each selection.  Color selection and even line weight add to each story to give them a feel and look completely independent of each other even while some of the themes explored carry over from one to the other.

The rewards I got by being a kickstarter backer were also very nice.  A simple elegant personal inscription and original sketchplate in the book, as well as a few other extras for the backers mean this book was a real treat to get.

This book is available at Amazon, or better yet, directly from Ms Frye at this link.  I believe that most will find this a good read, or at the very least, a beautiful work of creativity, and real eye candy for the visually minded.

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