cover image Hair Shirt

Hair Shirt

Patrick McEown. Abrams/SelfMadeHero, $24.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-9068-3827-0

It seems like kismet when John and Naomi reunite within the opening pages of McEown’s (Grendel) bleak yet honest story, which reveals the toll one’s past can have on both oneself and close friends. But John is haunted by lurid memories of Chris, a boorish childhood friend and Naomi’s brother, who died years earlier, after leaving the pair with deep psychosexual scars that prevent them from maintaining healthy relationships. Unlike the whimsical logic that often governs courtship in comics (such as in Archie or Bryan O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim), McEown’s characters behave with believable insecurities and are simultaneously responsible for and helpless against the deterioration of their love. It’s a gloomy read, perhaps, best accompanied by a cup of black coffee and a Radiohead album, but it never drifts too far into angst-ridden melodrama, instead drawing readers into McEown’s appropriately scribbled and murky-hued world of youth and regret. (Mar.)