cover image THE MASOCHISTS


Nick Bertozzi, . . Alternative Comics, $14.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-891867-03-3

Comix artist Bertozzi's latest presents three honest and unforgiving stories that examine miscommunication, emotional indifference and blatant cruelty. Each character copes with his or her own feelings of inadequacy. "Passing Out" charts the course of a high school friendship. A fantasy-character card game between two teenaged band members comes to an abrupt halt when one of them falls in love with a girl and coldly rejects his former friend. In "U.V. Katastrophe," a former punk rocker, frustrated with writing advertising jingles, experiences a moment of musical transcendence when he sits in with his former band; readers see him spiraling up toward the heavens on Bertozzi's vine-like visual representations of sound. And in "5/4," a story of maladjustment and cynicism, Donna, a self-mutilating and alcoholic young woman, lives a sad life with her brother and beer-guzzling father. Inebriated and stumbling home one evening, she's picked up by some art patrons and put on display, half-undressed and humiliated, during a crowded exhibition. Bertozzi (Boswash) infuses his stories with a deep melancholy and punctuates them with moments of genuine emotional discomfort that reveal his characters' most intimate and vulnerable sides. His b&w drawings are powerful but deceptively simple; they push the narrative along almost without help from the truncated, acerbic dialogue. (June)