RELEASE DATE: Feb. 28, 2019
In this graphic novel, reality is altered when a high schooler’s notebook doodles come to life.
An unnamed high school student nukes his breakfast pizza on a Styrofoam plate, mistakenly placed on top of his wire-bound notebook. This releases “a micro-radioactive cloud of awesomeness” that mutates and connects molecular structures. At school, the teen takes his notebook and draws a basic cartoon figure, which becomes sentient and possesses a will of his own: “Are you drawing me? TRIPPY!” Dud (the figure’s eventual name) prods the boy throughout the school day to use his creativity in a series of drawing challenges. While the teen’s work does become skillful and complexly imaginative, he fears he’s going crazy and tries to banish his creation. But Dud returns for some adventures. More importantly, he gains access to the student’s most secret fears and feelings, as embodied in drawings that exist in a “forbidden” part of the notebook. Especially taboo are sketches that express the teen’s pain over his parents’ divorce and their emotional unavailability. “I’m not going to lie to you. That stuff is pretty crappy,” Dud acknowledges, but ignoring problems, he says, is worse. The boy can always make art but now understands he can include it as part of a healthier engagement with the world. Kevin Minor, who has collaborated on two children’s books, writes a beautifully conceived and executed story that both describes and enacts the power of the imagination. The Minors’ accomplished graphic style encompasses both traditional full-color comics that make effective use of the panel spaces and dynamic pencil work that expresses Dud’s vivid personality. Many episodes are hilarious, as when Dud faces Poe-derived dangers during English class. Such humor and artistry alone would be entertaining, but beyond that, the novel’s emotional intelligence makes it truly compelling.
A funny, thoughtful, original, and eye-catching tale about a young artist: terrific all around.
Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2019
Page Count: 112
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020
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