cover image One Dirty Tree

One Dirty Tree

Noah Van Sciver. Uncivilized, $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-941250-27-3

The title of this moving graphic memoir from the Ignatz-nominated Van Sciver (Fante Bukowski Three) comes from the nickname his siblings gave their overcrowded ramble of a childhood home, which still haunts him. Using the same wavy and sketchy but emotionally direct style throughout, Van Sciver alternates between revealing himself as an insecure and financially strapped 29-year-old and as a frightened kid navigating the random nature of life at One Dirty Tree. In the former story line, he works food-service, agonizes over getting anywhere as a cartoonist, and feels judged as a loser by his girlfriend. This is overshadowed by the latter, Alison Bechdel-esque narrative, in which his large Mormon family “was in decline” from a golden age he never experienced, except through photos of “smiling children in new clothes, with new toys.” Van Sciver’s childhood was loomed over by his sometimes violent bipolar father and frustrated writer mother, neither of whom did much parenting. The simple figure drawings are situated in text-heavy frames and, befitting the repressed emotions roiling under the surface, the colors are muted, bordering on drab. While affectionate in many memories, Van Sciver also powerfully illustrates the scars raked across an adult life by a chaotic upbringing. [em](Oct.) [/em]