Quietly Sure - Like the Keeper of a Great Secret
Softcover book, 88 pages, 6.75” x 5”
Little Otsu, publisher, 2008
From Little Otsu: 
Jo Dery makes her impressive book debut with this collection of new stories, Quietly Sure – Like the Keeper of a Great Secret. Set in a personal world of seekers and guides with parallel and intertwining tales, she has created an engaging work of strange beauty. Her four main characters search for an understanding of themselves and their purpose through their peculiar encounters with each other and the forces of nature (including a hungry spider, spectacled bears, a stinging snake, a lost lizard, and a reflective moon).
With a modern folk style of drawing and boundless imagination, Jo is able to bring forth a stunningly detailed mythic world. Her background as a screenprinter lends images a depth of field that brings visual richness to each page. Things start off with the dispersal of some vicious seeds and wind their way through six stories of new discoveries, things gained and lost, new partnerships, and lessons learned. But like the keeper of a great secret, we wouldn’t want to give away much more—the splendor is in the journey.
This is another beautiful book from Little Otsu: well-crafted, well-designed and lovely to look at. Dery's art has a slightly immersive quality (not unlike Theo Ellsworth's approach) but also makes the reader look at the page perhaps more than read it. There's a loose narrative about a series of creatures searching for meaning or solutions to their woes, all of which wind up eventually crossing over into each other. There are actually some quite clever narrative touches to be found that coalesce after a couple of readings that evoke a certain wistfulness. Dery has the rare skill of being able to modulate the story's emotional content purely through her use of decorative flourishes. A shadow here, a lonely tree there and a set of background designs all serve to move the reader's feelings rather than just one's eye. This is a book about seeking what's missing in one's life: sight, a true home, knowledge, and how finding them is sometimes a matter of letting them find you. This is a book that in many ways is incredibly slight and manipulative by turns, yet is ultimately redeemed by an almost palpable sincerity that matches the artist's skill.​​​​​​​
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