cover image Maple Terrace

Maple Terrace

Noah Van Sciver. Uncivilized, $24.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-941250-59-4

A budding comic artist undergoes trial by bully in Eisner Award winner Van Sciver’s deeply vulnerable and darkly comic graphic novella, which marks a return to the intimate style of his memoir One Dirty Tree. One of nine kids in an impoverished Mormon family in “New Jersey 1992ish,” young Noah is a panicky, dorky eight-year-old whose only respite from the chaos of his filthy home and nearly friendless life is comics. He’s delighted to find a stash of them abandoned by a neighborhood kid who was buying copies as investments (the 1990s’ collector issue bubble is thinly satirized throughout the narrative), until he realizes his discovery could lead to a beatdown from the bullies who torment him. Van Sciver’s rendering of Noah flop-sweating through crises under the guilt-inducing gaze of the family’s Joseph Smith portrait is largely comedic, due to the comix-y drawing (toothy mouths, bugged-out eyes) and the author’s sardonic humor (Noah’s brother Ethan, who also grew up to become a comic artist, is depicted as a kind of demigod with glowing eyes). Still, Noah’s tribulations are earnestly real. This affecting snapshot will resonate with readers who can relate to the agonies and ecstasies of the young comics enthusiast. (May)