cover image Rivers


David Gaffney and Dan Berry. Top Shelf, $19.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-60309-490-0

A cluster of lovelorn, self-isolating souls are drawn together through their dreams in this fateful graphic novel from Gaffney and Berry (The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head). Set in a modern England heavy with technology, anxiety, and disconnection, the script is appropriately skittery, with flashbacks to the 1990s as well as a futuristic comic-book-within-the-comic. The present-day narrative follows a trio who appear to have lost the capacity for interpersonal interaction but are linked via an app that connects those with similar dreams. Heidi is an editor and burgeoning agoraphobic who has a dream about a “friend consolidation service.” Gideon is a moony techie at a company far too hip for him, and is haplessly infatuated with his cubicle neighbor, Lisa. He and Heidi are haunted by episodes from their past: his a seemingly innocuous memory of reading a goofy revenge comic with his buddy, hers a string of increasingly melancholy moments with her fun but childish father. Peter, meanwhile, is a talkative older man covering up regrets with needling jabber. The art is appealingly rudimentary—the loose, noodle-like characters sport a wide-eyed raggedy charm that recalls Jeffrey Brown. While the conclusion may be too rom-com neat, it’s an overall surprisingly soulful ensemble piece. (Aug.)