Saturday, November 08, 2008

Spotlight Review The Alcoholic Graphic Novel

The Alcoholic
Publisher DC Comics
Vertigo Imprint
Writer Jonathan Ames
Art Dean Haspiel
Format 131 Page Story Black & White Hardcover
Retail $19.99

This book is very autobiographical and in fact it comes across so raw and honest that I feel like little if anything has been fictionalized.

The story follows Jonathan A. from a young man in his early teens to a man in his late forties (maybe younger or older). He is an alcoholic and drug addict, who manages to be functional most of the time and makes a living as a writer.

I guess what is most interesting is watching this person struggle with his sexual identity, friendships, family relationships and what is the meaning of his life. For the most part the book is such a depressing view of life that at times I found myself wondering why I was reading it. At the same time it is so honest and compelling that I keep hoping that the character will pull his life together and make things work.

From waking up with a grandmother molesting him in a car, to waking up with his pants around his ankles and head in a trashcan you are amazed that he manages to actually become a successful enough writer to make any money. The other times we see him living in French for awhile with a beautiful girl-friend and one time find what seemed to be the love of his life.

But follow him we do, through the death of friends and parents, drunken binges and coke parties, failed relationships, a rehab stint and his warm and loving relationship with his great aunt.

If you were at a bar with someone and they told you their life story in such a brutal and honest manner, you would probably tell them TMI and ask them to switch subjects as it would be that uncomfortable, but as a graphic novel it is a fascinating look at a truly f**ked up life.

The artwork by Dean Haspiel is excellent and has an “indie” feel to it. It is not truly realistic, but closer to realism that a Darwyn Cooke’s style. Dean has a great use of blacks and is equally at home in a barroom scene as sidewalks or a bedroom.

Overall Grade A

A brutally honest look at a life.

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