cover image Temperance


Cathy Malkasian, Fantagraphics, $22.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60699-323-1

Lester believes he lost his leg in the great war, fighting with his father-in-law, Pa, against the enemy. He spends his days patrolling the walled city-ship Blessedbowl, and his nights drinking himself into a dreamless sleep. What Lester does not remember is that he actually lost his leg (and his memory) defending his wife, Minerva, against the abusive Pa. He also does not know that Blessedbowl is not a ship but a walled town in the middle of a vast forest, designed to keep its "founder," Pa, out. And he also does not know that his wooden leg is alive and will soon go out looking for Pa. Trying to keep up with the plot of Eisner Award–winning cartoonist Malkasian's (Percy Gloom) twisted allegory can be frustrating, but the real point is to show off Malkasian's atmospheric art, which is more than up to carrying the load. Relying heavily on pencil shadings to establish mood, Malkasian's restraint of line results in vividly drawn but still complex characters: homely Minerva is both desperate and resourceful, Pa appears both menacing and pitiful, and addled Lester retains his fundamental courage. Flashes of sharp dialogue suggest that Malkasian's writing may someday catch up with her considerable artistic talent. Until then, her audience still has plenty to admire. (June)