As we begin to look back at a year in Lockdown, we start to focus on the things which have been missing from our lives over the past 12 months. The main one, being human contact – both physical and emotional. Touch Is Really Strange is the latest addition to Singing Dragon’s ‘Really Strange’ series and is a fascinating and thought provoking look at the subject of touch.
Touch Is Really Strange is a fascinating mix of science, anecdotes and self help, all told in a glorious illustrated style. While it was most likely a book that was planned and conceived outside lockdown, it has an added significance being released during a time when human contact has been so greatly reduced.
Writer Steve Haines mixes cold hard scientific facts on the senses and how our body works, alongside philosophical musings, pop culture quotes and quirky real world anecdotes. When allied with the beautiful artwork of illustrator Sophie Standing it makes for a really compelling and engaging read. Whether it is looking at why we cannot tickle ourselves through to our use of touch as extra sensory perception (and why touch is much more than just one of our 5 main senses).
At just 32 pages, it is a short and punchy read, yet thanks to the depth of content on every page (the book’s foot notes help expand each point for added depth) it feels like it could be a book that is twice that page count. Fortunately it stops short of going any further in depth on the subject, which could have made this book a bit over whelming – it also steers clear of the subject of sexual touch, meaning it never gets side tracked into being something it isn’t.
What makes this work so well as a subject for a ‘comic’ is the blending of words and gloriously rendered images to create a really accessible read. It is much more of an illustrated book than a traditional story comic, but Standing’s artwork has this glorious flow to it. She uses curvaceous almost liquid lines for the compositions which flow across the page, and has an almost art deco feel to some of the images which are just wonderful. When allied with a beautifully warm and earthy colour palette and textured tone to every page, it makes for an almost tactile experience when reading.
The use of infographic style panels, helps to present what could be dry information in a really engaging manner. While some of the more imaginative full page splashes help to give the book a visual diversity to it and create these beautiful images which help give the book a really gorgeous feel to it.
As with many Singing Dragon books this is a really thoughtful and interesting approach for comics/graphic story telling. A wonderful mix of factual story telling and visual imagery, this is one of those books which you might not be instantly be drawn to, but which is well worth picking up.