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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  426 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Helen is an amateur bird watcher and naturalist who lives in a rural community in Wales. When a local farmer Bill tells Helen that a rare bird named Emrys killed himself at Cuddig farm, she decides to investigate. One of the dogs at the farm tells her, by way of explanation, that Emrys had no feathers and couldn t fly. She plucks an old cosmetic kit from a dumpster and dis ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 28th 2014 by Fantagraphics
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  426 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cinematic and dark, "Gast" is an unexpected treasure. The girl looks to solve the mystery of the dead "bird", one frame at a time!!

Swain employs the 9 frames per page method... all resulting in a pace that is at the same time arresting & smooth. Ever since I met this goat roaming the German country side I think I am done with goat meat! This book will make you feel akin to this (new & alien) feeling, as they are witnesses to Helen's fish-outta-water plight.

Very poignant!
David Schaafsma
See, this is the kind of story I like, very minimal, expressed mainly through visuals and through a lot of people who don't talk much. A girl moves to Wales and spends most of her time outdoors, and very soon begins investigating the death of a neighbor, piecing it together with the help of some people.. and animals. Of course talking animals is a staple of comics and other works of literature, I am thinking of Charlotte's Web, Animal Farm, Maus, and more recently in Adam Hines's Duncan the Wond ...more
Sam Quixote
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Helen, a young girl whose family recently moved to the Welsh countryside, becomes obsessed with the recent suicide of her farmer neighbour, Emrys. As she begins looking into the man’s former life, she discovers his lonely and hard existence, living as a transvestite and working land that yielded little.

Gast – the Welsh word for female dog or bitch – is a very muted story. Carol Swain chooses not to have an omnipotent narrator and there is no inner dialogue from Helen, so the reader is kept at a
Dylan Horrocks
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Unbearably beautiful. One of the most beautiful graphic novels I've ever read.
Emilia P
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Welsh countryside! Talking dogs and sheep! A strong and weird female protagonist! The history of a transvestite farmer to contend with! This was pretty interesting, and I enjoyed the lovely scenes of the grey and moody countryside. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty immersive. I wish it had packed more a punch, but I enjoyed reading it, and would check out more Swain stuff if it came up.
Apr 13, 2019 added it
Liked the art and writing styles but have mixed (mostly negative) feelings about the whole "story about a dead trans person from the perspective of a cis person" thing... (if Carol Swain is trans, I take this back)
Tracey Thompson
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really bloody beautiful, the illustrations and the narrative. A kind of quiet sorrow. Just wonderful.
Daniel Gargallo
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comic
One of those "Rare Candies" in the world that seems to level-up your soul. A triumph of the slice-of-life genre and the nine-panel page, Gast is a gripping book that I could not put down. There is detective work in this story, there are questions, there are answers, but not in the way zealots of the mystery genre would appreciate. It isn't just that there are no easy answers, it is that the mystery of Gast is so genuine and comprehensible that it will offend a conspiracy theorist's sensibilities ...more
Kenya Starflight
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Despite seeing this graphic novel on more than one "best of comics" list, I was VERY hesitant to pick it up -- I'd read a previous graphic novel by the author/illustrator, "Foodboy," and found it awful. Still, I'll usually give most writers more than one chance, and so despite my misgivings I opted to pick up "Gast." And it's better than "Foodboy" by a fair margin... but I'm still baffled at how it can be considered one of the greatest graphic novels out there.

"Gast" follows Helen, a girl whose
It seems implausible that a book with magic-realist talking animals and the suicide of a cross dresser would be called quiet and unassuming. Indeed, when the latter element was introduced I began to worry I had been duped by the pastoral, James-Herriot-like cover art. But even broaching politically and otherwise charged subject matter, Swain maintains the unhurried, curious, nonjudgmental point of view of her child protagonist and the quietude of the Welsh countryside.

I'm drawn to small storie
Jed Mayer
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A subtly moving coming of age story that also serves as a meditation on the permeable borders between humans and animals, men and women, England and Wales. Slow, brooding, quiet frames pass by with little dialogue, and the experience of reading/looking is like walking the rolling landscapes of border country on a slightly overcast day, rich but melancholy: the first real piece of art I've encountered under the guise of a "graphic novel."
Apr 09, 2016 rated it liked it

At first I was rather unimpressed (and a little confused, as Gast wasn't at all the book I was expecting it to be... sometimes books sit on my to-read list for so long that I forget what they are or why they are there...), but Gast does build a certain cumulative effect. Melancholy and lonesome but kind of sweetly odd.
Tara Pincott
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Somehow this book kind of missed the mark for me. The story and the art didn't engage me as much as I thought it would and I found parts of the story incredibly confusing. I think there are definitely people out there who might grasp the message of this graphic novel a bit better than I did, but personally it just wasn't for me.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
[TW: suicide, gender dysphoria]

Gast is a wonderful short graphic novel about an eleven-year-old girl named Helen, who has recently moved to rural Wales from London. Obsessed with the natural world, Helen spends her days exploring her new home and talking to animals until she hears that a local farmer killed themselves. Through her childlike curiosity and unique take on the world, she goes about trying to discover more about Emrys, the person who committed suicide.

We soon find out that Emrys is t
Ian Schiffman
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best comparison I would have for Gast is the filmography of Béla Tarr. Not so much visually, aesthetically or storywise but in atmosphere and emotion. Tarr is mostly known for films like Sátántangó, ones in which characters from the country exist in bleak and depressing towns. He famously films his characters with extended long takes in which shots will linger for minutes at a time. These long takes convey a sense of time and place capturing the slowness of existing in the country.

For those
Krista Kosar
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This wasn't the kind of graphic novel I was expecting, but I liked it! The minimal text almost made you engage more with the story than if there had been a lot of dialogue. If you're looking for a graphic novel with a storyline, this is not the book for you. It took a few pages for me to realize that I wasn't going to get answers or a vivid plot. It was like seeing a silent movie, because the visuals flowed smoothly from one to the next. Gast is more of an "emotional feelings" graphic novel than ...more
George K. Ilsley
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, graphic, glbt
A splendid merging of story and art. I loved the talking animals, who added so much yet remained honest and observant. Some pages have no words, and yet the story is enhanced and the reader is lead in different directions by the observations of the young girl. This is the best achievement in a graphic novel that I have perused in a long time.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gast is an introspective and thoughtful graphic of discovery and loss with striking minimalist charcoal drawings. I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to any reader of graphics who prefers the cerebral to the wham bam boom!
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Gast” is a rare bird in its own right. It raises points on childhood, otherness, and nature, all without pushing an overarching theme. Through it all, there’s a certain magic in its quietness, making this solitary journey hard to forget.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Dark and kind of weird. Just not for me.
Debbie Ginsberg
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful graphic novel! I love the painterly influence of the drawings.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully illustrated with an engaging story.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quietly poignant with great depth of story coming from watching the small details.
Mainak Mukhoty
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delve into a profound solitude, and a sadness that will be difficult to pinpoint. This is a book about transformation, whether you find it or not. Not for everyone.
Brian Mulhall
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really beautiful story where it really is a child on an adventure, but arguably more of a tale for adults.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unexpectedly dark and moving comic.
Humbert Cumberdale
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story. Strange and nostalgic.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
a very sparse very beautiful melancholy story
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics-2019
Very weird and minimalist. A girl moves into the country with her parents and walks around talking to animals and researching the past of a suicide cross dresser.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Carol Swain is a pretty easy sell for me, as I've been a fan of her work since I first saw it more than 20 years ago. So, it's been with considerable delight that I've seen her sort of resurface (at least for me) in the past few years. Gast is her first major new solo work since Foodboy (I think), and it is perfect Swain.
In spite of what the Goodreads synopsis says (taken straight from the back jacket of the book), this is not so much a discovery of the inner life of a young girl as it is the wi
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