Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 81 (4/25) -- Hello, Again by Max Estes

Estes is an American illustrator and cartoonist now living in Norway; this was his first book (back in 2005, before he moved to Norway), which I happened upon serendipitously recently. Hello, Again is a small-format drawn book, just slightly taller than wide, roughly 5" x 6".

It was Estes's first graphic novel, and it's five years old, so it would be cruel to be particularly critical of it -- and excessive, since Hello, Again may be a bit slight and obvious in its connections, but Estes has a wonderfully expressive drawing style (only slightly hemmed in by the small panels and pages he's working within here) and a fine sense of character.

Willy -- the guy on the cover -- is the super of an apartment building, and secretly having an affair with Delia, who is not only a tenant but the live-in girlfriend of his best friend, Aaron. Estes explicitly links this to a similar infidelity by Willy's father when Willy was young -- I'd say that's a bit too pop-psychology and on-the-nose for a book like this, but it's plausible. Willy has to face the morality of what he's doing when a specter from his past -- which may be just his conscience, or may be something more -- appears and begins to lightly harangue him about his failings.

Hello, Again is a small book -- in theme and scope as well as physical size -- but it's a zippy, cute one. Estes's story of infidelity and second chances probably doesn't have as much resonance as he'd hoped for, but it's a perfectly good debut graphic novel with very appealing art.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
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Listening to: Okkervil River - Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979
via FoxyTunes

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