cover image The Field

The Field

Dave Lapp. Conundrum, $30 trade paper (540p) ISBN 978-1-77262-094-8

Vignettes from the unsupervised fringes of a 1970s Ontario suburb comprise this wistful graphic memoir from Lapp (Drop-In). Over a languid summer off from elementary school, David explores the abandoned fields near his family home. Tagging along behind Edward, his slightly older next-door neighbor, David combs the grassy landscape for mice, frogs, and insects. Evading their parents’ notice, the duo smuggle boxes of matches out of David’s house and baby rabbits in. Nostalgia permeates many of the episodes—dandelion wishes, the sear of hot asphalt on bare feet—but the days are far from idyllic. In the company of older boys, Edward can be casually cruel, as when he drops a hammer on David and another boy from his perch on an unfinished tree fort. “You know I don’t like you being around that boy,” David’s mother scowls. She hesitates to intervene, though, as she’s preoccupied by marital strain and her own sense of isolation. Lapp’s ear for dialogue and his spare, economical cartooning (reminiscent of Chester Brown, with the slightest shades of Edward Gorey) distill a persuasive kid’s-eye view of the world eroding around David. Residential development razes the untended fields; his parents’ marriage dissolves. Lapp’s sensitive yet unsentimental portrait of fading innocence is an exceptional achievement. (May)