Miscellaneous Reviews:

Clover Honey

(Graphic novel Words and art by Rich Tommaso Published by Fantagraphics)

Described by the blurb on the backcover as a combination of Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorcese and Quentin Tarantino, I really wanted to like this book. The small-paperback-novel-sized format is perfect for reading on the train, but the artwork and story would perhaps benefit from being displayed in a larger format, because it feels cluttered. And unlike the three film directors, there just isn't enough wit and sick humour to lighten the story.

This is not to say that I don't like what's here. On the contrary, Tommaso's simple painting style is a delight, and the story is intriguing enough. It's just unfortunate that it's not an ongoing series, where we'd have more time to get to know these characters. As it is, it's hard to empathise with these people without knowing more about them. There's Abigail, desperate to prove her worth in the Family. Having bungled a job under the tutelage of her cousin Trevor, she has to prove that she's still up to the task. Meanwhile, Trevor's disappeared with a wedge of money and the Family wants it - and him - back. So Abbey's sent to find him. In utter naivete, she believes that he will just be fired, but Trevor knows that "once you're in the family, you're in the family" and hides out to save his life.

Abbey heads off to the city to see her other cousin Patti, who she's sure will have news of Trevor's whereabouts. Her overnight visit to Patti's apartment proves to be one of the most memorable events in the book, leaving a weird aftertaste in the mind. The easiest comic to compare Clover Honey to would be David Lapham's Stray Bullets. They are both similar in narrative structure and subject, although the artwork is markedly different. Tommaso's painting style looks like it would fit comfortably on a CD cover or illustrating a magazine article, which is not to dismiss his artwork, which I think is the strongest aspect of this book. If only the characters were as nice as they look - or at least given a chance to develop.

http://www.fantagraphics.com - a bit like the Slave Labor site, this just doesn't go far enough. [sigh]

Anna Jellinek

A-Z of Miscellaneous Reviews