cover image Pill Hill

Pill Hill

Nicholas Breutzman. Uncivilized, $34.95 (260p) ISBN 978-1-94125-055-6

“How did I get here?” wonders Breutzman (Yearbooks) in this intense, often harrowing graphic memoir that draws readers through the painful aftermath of his divorce and the struggles and absurdities of becoming a single parent. The bright, blue-hued, and tenderly drawn scenes detail the heartbreaks of sharing custody of his son, Henry, and his stepson, Drake, with his ex-wife, who is depicted as mentally ill. Meanwhile, Breutzman is trying to figure out why there’s chewing gum stuck to all the trees in a local park, a frame narrative that offers avenues for digression (studying the cultural history of gum) and bonding with his kids. As his ex-wife spirals ever deeper into cycles of addiction, Breutzman tries—sometimes unsuccessfully—to protect Henry and Drake from such threats as her “tweaker” boyfriends, and to maintain his own sanity. Irregular interludes in granular black-and-white pencil sketches detail the challenging process of creating the book, which he’d first imagined as a detective story and instead became an episodic document of sorrows (“the more I tried to weave some sort of plot together, the more it fell apart”), and finding new love. The haunting scenes of a family trapped in the grips of powerlessness and pain will ring true to anyone who has dealt with a loved one’s addiction. The art has sweeping energy, increasingly vibrating with distress. It’s a tormented account—raw, sad, and unrelenting—that compounds into a formidable portrait of resilience. (Sept.)