cover image Breakwater


Katriona Chapman. Avery Hill, $15.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-910395-57-8

Chapman (Follow Me In) captures the gray layers sometimes found in friendships and mental health in an affecting, appealingly small-scale graphic narrative. Chris is a 40-year-old introvert who has worked at the same moldering movie theater in Brighton, England, on and off for 20 years. She finds a companion in her new co-worker, Daniel, a gay man whose apparent calm and self-awareness are a positive influence. He reminds Chris, a people-pleaser by nature, that she doesn’t have to put up with other’s nonsense, and inspires her to resume working toward a master’s degree in social work. As their connection deepens, Chris gets clues into Daniel’s hidden struggles: money problems, an abusive ex, a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. After finding him slumped, semiconscious, by a toilet after taking too much of some substance, she discovers the limits of what friendship can fix. Ironically and poignantly, Chris finally internalizes Daniel’s guidance about boundaries by setting them, firmly, with him. Chapman’s drawings are softly shaded, yet tidy and deliberate, and she evokes a haunted boardwalk vibe. She takes her time telling the story, devoting full pages to small movements. This offbeat graphic narrative proffers some surprisingly deep lessons about psychology and self-care. [em](Nov.) [/em]