cover image The Crackle of the Frost

The Crackle of the Frost

Jorge Zentner and Lorenzo Mattotti. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-60699-543-3

This whimsical tale, set in the aftermath of a failed love affair, follows the self-indulgent, fanciful Samuel Darko as he attempts to come to grips with the breakup of his relationship with Alice, and his own pervasive fears about fatherhood and other matters. Mattotti’s brightly colorful, atomic-powered panels steal the show, and that’s a good thing considering that Zentner’s convoluted psychologizing feels like being forced to listen to someone else’s interminable dream, which, as Paul Bowles once noted, is never much fun. As Samuel flies to another country to find Alice, he becomes engrossed by a book about an invincible warrior named Liu. That and a few other subsequent parenthetical narratives are actually the most enjoyable and readable parts of the story, if only because Samuel is so relentlessly self-absorbed that any effort at empathy falls flat. Zentner’s writing serialized in Heavy Metal can sometimes be quite delightful, but Samuel’s neuroses and ruminations quickly wear thin over the course of this long, jumbled foray into one man’s oppressively unrelenting angst. Despite the depressing story line, Mattotti’s truly inspired lines, expressive forms, and wild visual imagination will captivate. (Sept.)