This 11" x 11", 20-page work is without any doubt the most intense work we came across at this year's (2007) SPX. It is also, however, one of the more difficult and some readers may find it confusing. Finally, this is not a work that was produced with entertainment in mind, as it takes us through the tormented psyche of its protagonist, Emmaline, who is haunted by past sufferings which she can't seem to shake. Juliacks is another new, Pittsburgh-based comics artist. She has produced several previous works -- which we also have in stock -- but has with Swell produced a clear step forward that stands out from the crowd. It draws from the same well of savage primitivism as Rory Hayes and Mike Diana, and cross-breeds this quality with the suburban angst of Diane Noomin and Aline Kominsky to successfully communicate the emotional states of rage and pain in which Emmaline is trapped and from which she is desperately trying to escape. Swell is clearly intended by its creator as a cathartic abreaction of trauma and shines in its artistic risk-taking as many experiments are conducted in characterization, text placement and, most successfully, page layout. The mark making is heavily labored and obviously invested with strong personal feelings. All in all this first installment of Swell is a unique piece that is well worth the modest outlay. We hope that future installments deliver on the promise of this initial foray.