Off Season

James Sturm. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-77046-331-8
The romantic underpinnings of this bleakly drawn and emotionally raw graphic novel from Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing) are buried under Yankee stoicism and the sniping crossfire and precisely drawn quotidian scenes of loss in a failing marriage. But these loosely linked chapters on the travails of a grumpy contractor feeling pressed on all sides—cheating boss; angry, nearly divorced wife; tantrum-tossing children—all host a kernel of longing. The dialogue is clipped and astute, threaded neatly into delicately steely art by Sturm, whose naturalism is so pronounced that it takes only a few pages to forget that he has drawn all the characters as dogs (albeit wearing clothes, driving cars, and walking on two legs). In between the contractor’s bursts of frustrated rage (“I need to get back to work—I don’t have a trust fund”), nods to the dark tides of frustrated masculinity that swept through the 2016 election, and snarky sarcasm (“Bernie sticker on his Mercedes-Benz. A real man of the people”), Sturm slips in short, bright glimpses of grander possibilities. This finely wrought, politically agitated graphic fiction recalls Raymond Carver, and speaks almost too painfully to the personal strife in today’s political climate. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2018
Release date: 02/05/2019
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