cover image Jacob’s Apartment

Jacob’s Apartment

Joshua Kemble. Graphic Mundi, $21.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-63779-022-9

A Christian comic book artist faces a crisis of faith as his father nears death in this downbeat graphic novel about grasping for meaning in the face of chaos. Kemble (Two Stories) introduces Jacob and his roommate Sarah commiserating on the couch after separate miserable nights. The angsty pair take different routes to ameliorating ugly childhoods and a dissatisfying present day: Sarah rolls through disappointing one-night stands, Jacob turns to whiskey to blot out the reality of his father’s stay in the ICU. Kemble pulls back from their couch convo to fill out their pasts: Sarah as a victim of abuse who used books and a line of unsuitable men to escape, Jacob as a bullied child who longed for the security of his parents’ faith. Jacob’s collapsing belief in God is dissected through an extended debate with a preacher, in which a flailing Jacob utters “existentialism had it right... that we’re just spinning in an empty void?” Sarah, meanwhile, seems to serve primarily as an object of Jacob’s frantic yearning. The artwork borrows dramatic Daniel Clowes–ian shadowing, though vivid fantastical interludes highlight the deeply felt but misaligned romanticism. It’s a passionate if uneven tale and should register with doomed-romance fans who don’t mind a spiritual component. (May)