cover image Percy Gloom

Percy Gloom

Cathy Malkasian, . . Fantagraphics, $18.95 (169pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-845-9

Malkasian is an accomplished animation director so it's a pleasant surprise that her first graphic novel is so literary. Her surreal world grapples with many deep themes. The eponymous character has always dreamt of working for Safely-Now, the company that puts warning signs on household objects. The road to Percy's dream job lands him in many weird situations with cults playing a major role in both his past and present. The entire Safely-Now operation seems to be run by maniacs, with the kindest people Percy meets the talking goats. Within all these imaginative creations lie ruminations on topics such as living a cautionary life, the value of life itself and imminence of death. It's an ambitious project, but Malkasian infuses the book with a mythic spirit that fits just right. The appealingly grotesque look—curved buildings and endless staircases—has a solidity that helps the strange world make sense on its own terms. The tinted duotone makes the book look like an instant antique. It's clear that Malkasian is more interested in cosmic questions than a tight plot, but since she weighs those questions so well, it's easy to appreciate how good this book is. (June)