Petrozavodsk by Alison McCreesh Review
Author and Illustrator, Alison McCreesh has called the north home her entire life, whether it be her residence in Yellowknife, Canada, or her travels all throughout the arctic and sub-arctic regions. In 2018, McCreesh published North, a collection of notecards she sent during her journey around the circumpolar region. Two of the describe a health scare she faced while in Petrozavodsk, Russia.
McCreesh details her ordeal through her beautiful yet haunting comic, Petrozavodsk. In this deeply personal account, McCreesh delves into the downtrodden nature of the city of Petrozavodsk, opening with a conversation with her local guide about a bridge which had been broken down for five years, as well as the anxiety navigating the Russian healthcare system as a foreigner. She searches relentlessly on Google for an explanation as to what a bump on her breast may turn out to be, but as search result after search result becons her to seek a doctor, she finally begins her search for answers in a foreign land.
McCreesh's witty commentary juxtaposed with the black and white pencil drawings creates a gripping plot and unique tone that is both humorous yet somewhat foreboding at the same time. She also creates an almost ever present sense of isolation and anxiety through the wide illustrations of hallways, literal isolation of her character in panels, and the question mark that almost feels like it belongs above McCreesh's head. She excellently conveys her many sources of anxiety, which all seem to combine into one overwhelmingly large sense of stress. All together, McCreesh's Petrozavodsk is an intensely personal, stressful yet filled with a tinge of witty humor.