Ten Thousand Stories: An Ever-Changing Tale of Tragic Happenings

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr. Chronicle, $19.95 (84p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1407-1
The problem with many graphic novels is not lack of quality but quantity; in short, they’re far too short. Readers will not complain about the brevity of this whimsical curiosity of a story machine, from the writer/illustrator couple Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (who run the small press Idiots’ Books). Each page of the wirebound book is divided into four punchy horizontal panels, with text on the left and drawings on the right, which readers can then mix and match for endless variations. The book is made up of 10 morbidly funny stories about eccentrics (“The Puzzling Habits of Eccentric Messiahs,” “The Intoxicating Thrill of Combative Lovers”) who all seem to end up somewhere unfortunate. Behr’s illustrations have a scratchy, just-fallen-out-of-bed, Ralph Steadman quality, while Swanson’s stories are vividly episodic that isn’t damaged by the inherent randomization. For those who lack a partner with whom to play Exquisite Corpse, this book will pass the time just fine. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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