cover image Kettle Harbour

Kettle Harbour

Kyle Vingoe-Cram. Conundrum, $25 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-77262-083-2

Nova Scotian cartoonist Vingoe-Cram debuts with a lyrical, character-driven drama set in a small town in Newfoundland whose denizens are haunted by memories and misperceptions. The story opens with Brendan welcoming his visiting cousin, Andrea, into his childhood home, where he now lives with his husband, Michael. A flashback reveals that Andrea had an adolescent infatuation with Brendan and was heartbroken to learn he was gay. Their reunion is fraught: Brendan is anxious over Andrea’s history of mental illness (“I’m afraid of hurting her feelings. It’s like talking to a brittle paper doll”), while Michael senses “there’s something off about her.” Meanwhile, Michael cares for his volatile mother, a well-known playwright, who lives nearby and is succumbing to dementia. Secrets are revealed, culminating in a startling act of violence, as the ensemble attempts to reconcile with the past. Vingoe-Cram proves a nuanced visual stylist, whether they’re creating organically shaped panels, drawn like rocks or leaves, to evoke different character perspectives, breaking into full color in a sequence where Michael’s mother’s play is staged, or skillfully capturing the bucolic Newfoundland coast. It adds up to a moody, immersive, and unpredictable tale. (May)