Through the Habitrails: Life Before and After My Career in the Cubicles

Jeff Nicholson. Dover, $14.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-48680-286-2
An ordinary workplace is revealed as a hellish dystopia in Nicholson’s excellent but long-unseen brutal pseudo-autobiography. This reprint shortens the graphic novella (originally published in the early 1990s) and adds a newly drawn coda that finds the protagonist at peace with his decision to walk away from comics, mirroring Nicholson’s own history. The visual metaphors are well crafted and chilling, such as showing the main character’s head in a giant pickle jar to reflect his alcoholism, and taps on his body that his bosses use to drain workers’ creative vitality. Some of the material is extremely disturbing, depicting ideas that most just imagine about but this character acts upon. There’s an amazing skill to the linework, including an expert use of shading, the claustrophobic office setting, and the eerie way most of the characters lack mouths. Despite its age, Nicholson’s themes still hold true today, perhaps more than ever. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Comics
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