cover image The Con Artists

The Con Artists

Luke Healy. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-77046-623-4

A queer Irish stand-up comedian whose act hinges on candid self-appraisal struggles with mounting anxiety in this droll but affecting graphic novel from Healy (Americana). Frank’s hoping for a big break at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival when he gets a call from his flamboyant childhood friend Giorgio (“I can’t say if he blazed a trail for me, or kept me closeted longer”)—who’s just been struck by a bus. Though they don’t have “an ‘unprompted call’ kind of relationship,” Frank plunges headlong into his “irrepressible” friend’s home care—handling everything from Giorgio’s grocery shopping to his bathing. Cracks begin to show in the facade of Giorgio’s Instagram-filtered lifestyle, as Frank keeps a mental tally of the extravagant spending, conspicuous falsehoods, and consistent drinking on display. Frank also sees a therapist, but he parries with reflexive jokes her pointed questions about his determination to see an increasingly exasperating Giorgio through to recovery. Healy’s unfussy linework and tidy layouts ground the story. Occasional deadpan metafiction gags (such as the literal donning of a “Frank costume”) spring Healy’s themes to life, tilting the familiar setup of the neurotic stand-up comic toward a wry examination of the interplay of authenticity and vulnerability. The result’s a mordantly funny cautionary tale, and an incisive look at the boundaries of self-presentation and self-preservation. (June)