cover image Harvey Knight’s Odyssey

Harvey Knight’s Odyssey

Nick Maandag. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-77046-632-6

Corporate anomie and the madness of modernity are taken for a spin in this alternately ambitious and shoe-gazing collection of comics short stories from Maandag (The Follies of Richard Wadsworth). The surreal lengthy title piece posits a cultish Church of Holy Radiance whose theology of “solarism” (in a universe divided into light and dark, tanning beds are virtuous) seems kooky but benign. That’s until it’s revealed the church endorses killing anyone deemed a “shadowmen” by the righteous. Over the course of the increasingly violent tale, lumpy-headed fanatic Harvey Knight bends the church to his particular megalomaniacal fervor. Scenes of blasé murder alternate with darkly comedic vignettes, such as Harvey’s acolyte serving “fresh owl” for lunch. Two shorter autofiction selections serve as bookends and feature a mild-mannered office worker named Nick Maandag, who navigates lightly Kafkaesque alienation in cubicle land. His tribulations range from the surprise “daily ritual” office mates create around his making French press coffee to his descent into an absurdist landscape of stone-faced bureaucracy and quotidian persecution. The black-and-white art is simple but dynamic, presenting the fantastic with a relentlessly straight face. Not all the elements tie together, but the mordant package will appeal to deadpan comedy fans of the likes of Nick Drnaso or Jason. (Mar.)