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Heads or Tails

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The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon named to many annual critics lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today.

Carré’s elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms — a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel — are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue.

The stories in Heads Or Tails display a virtuosic breadth of visual styles and color palettes, each in perfect service of the story, and range from experimental one-pagers to short masterpieces like The Thing About Madeline (featured in The Best American Comics 2008), to graphic novellas like The Carnival (featured in David Sedaris and Dave Eggers’ 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading, originally published in MOME).

200 pages, Paperback

First published November 7, 2012

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About the author

Lilli Carré

31 books102 followers
Lilli Carré is an artist and illustrator currently living in Chicago. She primarily works in the forms of experimental animation, comics, and print. Her animated films have shown in festivals throughout the US and abroad, including the Sundance Film Festival, and she is the co-founder of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. Her books of comics are The Lagoon, Nine Ways to Disappear, Tales of Woodsman Pete, and a new collection of stories, Heads or Tails. Her work has appeared in The Believer Magazine, the New Yorker, The New York Times, Best American Comics and Best American Nonrequired Reading.

Source: Lilli Carré | ABOUT/CONTACT

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5 stars
452 (35%)
4 stars
454 (35%)
3 stars
284 (22%)
2 stars
65 (5%)
1 star
14 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 168 reviews
Profile Image for Nat.
553 reviews3,177 followers
August 2, 2018
Carré’s elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms — a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel — are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue.

I've been eyeing this illustrated collection full of short stories ever since I read a similar book titled: How To Be Happy by Eleanor Davis. But unlike the aforementioned, Carré’s visually stunning art never falters. The color pallets in particular stand out the most here when you turn from page to page. The sole act of flipping through this was a joy to experience.

Heads or Tails tells of strange tales and ideas about the world and humans. From a competition judge that is involved in a car accident and loses his taste for opinionated pieces to a woman encountering versions of herself through her routine-like day. “The lifestyle of shadowing herself was exhausting.” To a short story of rain dropping from the ceiling and flooding the apartment.

These nuanced and melancholy pieces are guaranteed to leave you thinking on life and all its aspects while leaving no emotion unexpressed.

Here are some of my favorite illustrations:

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Ultimately, Heads or Tails is a beautifully written, heartfelt, and deeply illuminating collection.

Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Heads or Tails, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!

Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils
Profile Image for Nuno R..
Author 7 books58 followers
April 15, 2020
This is absolutely brilliant, gorgeous, powerful! I love everything about these ilustrations, the tender weirdness of the stories, the fable like atmosphere, the colors, the lines, everyhting. I feel like covering my walls with Carré's ilustrations. It became instantly one of my favorite comic books, as surprising and dear to me as Shaun Tan's work was. Carré, like Tan, makes animation and I'm extremely excited about watching some of it whenever I get the chance.
Profile Image for Jesús.
378 reviews21 followers
September 4, 2019
A collection of Carré’s comics that shows her stylistic range as well as her love of the uncanny and of mid-century illustration. Her endings and punchlines don’t always hit as hard as I’d like, but a couple of the comics in this collection are absolutely fantastic (“The Carnival” and “Rainbow Moment”).
Profile Image for disco.
562 reviews221 followers
December 31, 2017
Each page was different than the last. Lilli Carre has a wild imagination and her format for transferring her thoughts onto page are inspiring.
Profile Image for Bill Hsu.
762 reviews138 followers
August 31, 2022
This was in the "Readers also Enjoyed" list for Michael DeForge's Very Casual, so I had to check it out. Whatever codebase they're using to make these recommendations, it's not working in this case. The shorter pieces especially seem cutesy and disposable. (No, those are not adjectives that generally come to mind with DeForge's work.)
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books105 followers
May 4, 2015
Strange, beautiful, dreamlike, theme-like, mazed and melancholy, some magical realism, and, as one Goodreads reviewer says, "an elegant sense of design." I loved this collection and look forward to reading more of her work.
Profile Image for Alexis.
29 reviews46 followers
February 10, 2023
Fun, weird, thought-provoking. Of all the short stories, "Of the Essence" was my favorite. I feel a lot like Miss Margaret. How do we find our footing between the everyday and the thrill?
Profile Image for Susan L..
Author 3 books17 followers
July 6, 2013
Lilli Carre is something special. Her graphic stories ooze charm and whimsy, but in a way so they never feel contrived or false. My favorites by far in this collection are "The Carnival" and "Too Hot to Sleep." The former is filled with arresting images, not the the least of which includes a windswept woman in a polka dot dress, a boy with a hair full of moths, and an ever-present, expressionless stuffed cow. The latter is great too in terms of its unforgettable and striking illustrations: a boy holding a dead fish's lips up to his ear, a girl at a mirrored vanity with sunburned legs save for the reminders of seashore souvenirs. "The Thing About Madeleine" (which was one of the best things about Best American Comics 2008) and the short-short "Marching Band" are standouts too, but so is most every other story in the volume. Carre's style is diverse but at the same time remains recognizable as her own.
Profile Image for lucy  black.
507 reviews34 followers
January 20, 2017
I found this disappointing. I really liked her other books but this one felt shallow. It was too whimsical and dreamy. Each story was too short for the reader to engage with the characters and the characters were all pretty stereotypical and unlikeable.
Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 28 books107 followers
February 4, 2021
The artwork is really unique in this one.

The stories are thought-provoking and outside the box sometimes too.

This is a creator who has something unique to say and the art and writing skills to back it up. It was a pleasure to read.

Profile Image for J.Istsfor Manity.
294 reviews
May 1, 2020
entertaining graphic short story collection... oblique stories and sharp art work... middle third of the collection is strongest, especially “the thing about madeline” and “the carnival”...
1,642 reviews21 followers
April 26, 2019
Lilli Carré provides delight after delight in this compilation of her shorter works. Many pieces had subtle twists or notes that stopped me in my tracks, so that I would go back and start from the beginning refocused on different themes or elements. More specifically, in the volume opener "Kingdom," Carré works out a "simple" conceit that is obvious after seeing a couple full-page panels. This "simple" work really drew me into considerations of the multiple meanings: a life's journey, settling down, hoarding, aging, etc. In one case ("Carnival"), I finished the story and immediately flipped back to the start where the story continued - a Möbius comic strip. (Also fun to be reminded that Lilli Carré was a contributor to The Believer magazine.)
75 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2015
Billed as a collection of graphical short stories, this is more a collection of disjointed and often surreal vignettes mostly without meaning: A little like Kafka but with no strong symbolism or even sense of story.

TINY SPOILER HERE: An example is two men argue over what to bet on the flip of a coin and then, once flipped, it never just comes back down.

I almost quit about a third of the way through, but finished it (it's graphical and a fast read of less than an hour) just to say I had so I could write this honestly.

2 stars just because it was work for Carré to put this together and some of the graphical art is appealing.

Profile Image for Jeff.
516 reviews16 followers
December 7, 2012
This is a great collection of the whimsical work of Lilli Carré, a talented contemporary cartoonist who isn't afraid to be twee, charming, or downright inscrutable when it suits her needs. Many of these individual pieces have been previously published, but it's still a joy to have them brought together in a single volume where readers can immerse themselves in Carré's strange and wonderful world. Highly recommended if you like idiosyncratic art comics heavily imbued with a sense of adventure and fun.
Profile Image for Linda Robinson.
Author 4 books134 followers
April 19, 2013
The longer stories made me a little queasy. Long limbs, odd heads, Daliesque storytelling. The Thing About Madeline is terrific, and Carre's short bits at the back are wonderful, too. I especially liked My Night Dance and Stress Orchestra. The book is designed by Carre, and the color palette is a combination of 50s paint chips and muted Ikea, separated by well-done grayscale. The best, the best begins "As I was working, the refrigerator abruptly stopped humming..." And the last few pages. Sublime.
Profile Image for Felipe Assis.
269 reviews4 followers
August 12, 2018
Após terminar de ler o segundo conto percebi algumas coisas que me soaram familiares, a primeira foi o traço que é muito parecido com o da Eleanor Davis; continuei achando que haveria algo mais, li mais um conto e conclui que o clima familiar que estava sentindo vinha dos contos de ninguém mais, ninguém menos que Júlio Cortázar, pesquisei e constatei que a autora é uma grande fã do Borges e do Próprio Cortázar. Agora pense: a autora é super talentosa e ainda por cima tem quase que um passe dos contistas argentinos, porra, hq espetacular."
Profile Image for Andrew.
736 reviews17 followers
May 8, 2016
A series of surreal-ish stories based loosely around themes of contradictions and indecision. Keeping with the theme of indecision, I wavered between 3 and 4 stars on this one. The longer pieces ("Carnival," "The Thing About Madeline," "The Rainbow Moment") are wonderful. They employ dream-logic and creative visual storytelling to accurately capture emotional states. The shorter pieces, however, suffer from a surfeit of cuteness that made my teeth hurt.
Profile Image for Alex Firer.
228 reviews6 followers
December 23, 2014
Chris Ware's book make a pretty great case for the world being an awful lonely place that is entirely your fault and Lilli Carre' books make a bittersweet case that that's very much okay and you're not the only frightened and lost. They're great feelings done with great cleverness both in storytelling and art. They should make teenagers read this instead of Lord of the Flies or something.
Profile Image for First Second Books.
560 reviews548 followers
October 1, 2012
Lilli Carre has a new short story collection, and it is excellent. Her art is gorgeous and so is her storytelling – everything just all feels like it fits together in a wonderful magical realistic sort of way of strangeness.

My favorite? The story about the girl’s shadow who became a girl.
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,304 reviews89 followers
May 25, 2013
Make no mistake: these are art comics. Surreal things happen. Figures morph and twist. That said, there's an elegant sense of design and color at work here. There's a quiet, haunting beauty to some of these stories that is unforgettable.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 168 reviews

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