cover image Kaleidoscope City

Kaleidoscope City

Marcellus Hall. Bittersweet Group, $14.99 (165p) ISBN 978-0-9897153-2-4

Hall (Because You Are My Baby), a New Yorker artist and children’s book illustrator, embarks on a swooning tour of New York City in his first full-length graphic novel. An unnamed protagonist drifts through the city rhapsodizing about its fundamental essence—like a river, “shifting, fleeting, endless”—and mourning a breakup. Hall spins together a bevy of unconnected vignettes depicting daily life in Manhattan: observing a moment of misunderstanding between strangers, riding through the city on a bicycle, gazing at women who just might be that one true love. But without urgency in structure or goal, Hall’s disparate observations feel static and distanced, even as his expressionistic black-and-white brushwork coaxes each scene into a kind of moving still life. There’s a strange sense of vanity in the way the protagonist sees the world, from feeling a limited connection to other subway riders to passionately romanticizing women as abstract concepts. Each scene is a showcase of Hall’s artistic skill, but without narrative purpose, and in plying too-familiar tropes, the accumulation makes for a literary morass. [em](Mar.) [/em]