cover image Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir

Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir

Colleen Frakes. Zest (HMH, dist.), $16.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-942186-02-1

Comics creator Frakes (Tragic Relief; Woman King) recounts her childhood growing up on McNeil Island, home to a now-shuttered prison in Washington's Puget Sound. Frakes shifts between her family's visit to the prison's 2011 closing ceremony, during which they revisited familiar buildings including their old house, and flashbacks to her childhood memories. For Frakes's family, living on the island meant that, for once, they were all in the same place at the same time; the price of that togetherness included 6 a.m. ferry rides to school and having to stay inside when prisoners were working outdoors. Frakes's loose b&w cartooning and straightforward dialogue provide a solid sense of both McNeil's history and the peculiarities of life on a prison island (such as having to lock up pool toys that could potentially be used in an escape). Dramatic moments are at a minimum%E2%80%94aside from an escape attempt that "just about ruined" Frakes's 16th birthday, the overall tone of the book is nostalgic and melancholy, a highly specific example of the idea that one can't go home again. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)