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Comic Book Review – Home After Dark

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Ricky Church reviews Home After Dark…In his second foray into adult graphic novels, writer and artist David Small focuses his attention on a coming-of-age story set in 1950s America in Home After Dark. What he delivers is a greatly written and illustrated story that touches on the societal difficulties of the 1950s, yet despite the generational gap, he also highlights how those struggles remain all too relatable and common in today’s world. Home After Dark is a captivating story that takes great advantage of the graphic novel format through Small’s illustrations.The book follows Russell, a young 13-year old boy whose life is turned upside down after his mother adandons the family and his father moves him and Russell out west with no job and no place to both live and for Russell to fit in. This displacement is at the heart of Russell’s story as he doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone, especially with a father who doesn’t seem to even want him while trying to mooch off others. At such an impressionable age Russell most often looks to the wrong people for friendship, though Small writes his journey in such a way that it may not even be friendship he’s really looking for, but relief from the isolation he feels in his life. It’s a theme that is believable and tragic in the way Small presents it.Identity is another strong theme throughout the book that Small ties closely with Russell’s loneliness. He isn’t an entirely likable character with some of the choices he makes, but that’s the point of the story too. Whether its hanging around a couple of schoolyard bullies or shunning an eccentric outcast, Russell’s motivations for doing so feel true to the story and character. Small does well highlighting just how withdrawn Russell becomes and how his need to feel just a little bit normal trumps some of the more important lessons he should be learning or good influences in his life. It’s some strong character work that is just as familiar in today’s world as it would have been back then. Small could have updated Home After Dark to the current time and very few elements of the story would have changed. Its views on growing up, manhood, identity and injustice are just as omnipresent now, perhaps even more so, than in the 50s.The story moves along at a fast pace even as Small juggles these themes together. Certain characters and story threads may pop in and out, but by the conclusion they mesh together very well as Russell’s existential crisis comes to a head. Small’s artwork also moves the story along as he makes some sweeping spreads and plays around with the layouts. Its easy to follow along, but where Small succeeds in his artwork is with the facial expressions and emotions coming off the characters. He employs a lot of close-ups on the various characters and imbues a good deal of emotion into them, whether Russell is overcome with anxiety or boredom or the snark radiating off a bully’s face. The art comes from a lot of Russell’s point of view, such as when they first leave their home and the grill of the car looks like the face of an angry monster (juxtaposed above an image of his father no less), and helps readers feel his isolation even more.Home After Dark is a compelling coming-of-age story thanks to Small’s focus on Russell’s lack of proper maturity in such a hostile and lonely environment. The struggles Russell goes through are still recognizable today and Small balances each one fairly well. His art both moves the story along at a nice pace and makes you feel the emotions behind each character. Small’s talents as a writer and artist are on clear display with his latest work in the genre.Rating: 8/10Ricky ChurchThe post Comic Book Review – Home After Dark appeared first on Flickering Myth.

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