Hummingbird Heart

Travis Dandro. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-770-46562-6

With a knack for breathtaking still lifes that accentuate the melancholy, Dandro follows King of King Court with a graphic memoir framing his teen years in the 1990s spent caring for his ailing grandmother. Dandro is a comics-loving prankster who would rather smash pumpkins with his friends Zung and Joey than deal with the death of his incarcerated addict father. But he’s also a responsible kid, and his Nana is a feisty, foulmouthed confidante. When she dies after refusing chemo for cancer, Dandro gets into fights and struggles with his next steps. “At least you had a grandmother! I’ve never even met mine!” Zung shouts, before describing his family’s humiliations as immigrants. Nana, along with Dandro’s long-deceased grandfather, becomes a spirit guide of sorts, pulling up in his dreams in a muscle car and cruising beneath a star-strewn sky to their final resting place. Dandro’s flair for detail offers windows into the harshness all his characters face; while the story elements are simple—grief, teen angst—the telling is visually layered. The art luxuriates in long pauses and aching suburban landscapes; readers will find themselves lingering over drawings that make even the Sears parking lot portentous. Dandro captures the ache of adolescent loss through the eyes of this crude-talking but deeply sensitive teen. (May)