cover image Keeping Two

Keeping Two

Jordan Crane. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (316p) ISBN 978-1-68396-518-3

Designer and cartoonist Crane (The Clouds Above) lets tiny moments swell into a flood of emotion in his most accomplished and moving work yet. While his girlfriend runs errands, a man washes dishes, putters around the house, and follows loosely connected trains of thought: memories from their relationship, including a lover’s spat while driving; the plot of the trauma-filled psychological novel he’s reading; a conversation about the idea that bad things happen in threes; and ruminations on his tendency to imagine the worst in any situation. When his girlfriend runs late, all these thoughts coalesce into the fear of losing her and the realization of how much she means to him. At last he goes out in search of her, setting off a chain of events that come crashing together. From panel to panel, the narrative shifts between times, places, perspectives, fantasies, worries, and stories within stories within stories. But the more fragmented the plot becomes, the stronger the emotional thread binding the disparate elements grows, winding toward an unexpectedly transcendent climax. Crane’s rounded characters inhabit carefully drawn suburban settings, drenched in nighttime shadows and colored in soft shades of green. The juxtaposition of simply drawn images and geometric patterns recall the style of Seth but with a warmer, sentimental touch. This a gently stunning meditation on loss, absence, and connection. (Mar.)