THE BIRTHDAY RIOTS

Nabiel Kanan, Author . NBM $14.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-56163-299-2

This short but ambitious graphic novel tells of a series of crises in the life of Max Collins, a campaign adviser to a London mayoral candidate. A former radical, Collins has sold out to middle-class comfort. Over the course of several weeks, a series of political events forces him to dramatically confront his past. England is in an uproar with mounting protests against the Land Law bill, a controversial legislation that prevents the homeless—Gypsies in particular—from squatting or loitering on vacant land. Collins, at odds with his now politicized daughter, becomes mired slowly in a growing web of domestic strife, infidelity, city politics, homelessness and racism. British cartoonist Kanan (Lost Girl) develops his story with an eye to personal detail and the nuance of social conflict in contemporary Britain. However, as the tension between Collins's past and present grows, Kanan opts for a grand, emotionally cathartic ending—a violent but unlikely confrontation with a mob of protestors—where a more personal denouement might have been more powerful. Although Kanan's b&w drawings suffer from an overdependence on gray tones, his stylized line work is simple and often elegant. He's produced a mostly rich and readable work marred only by an unsatisfying ending. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
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