Never As Bad As You Think

By | Tuesday, September 04, 2007 Leave a Comment
Kathyrn and Stuart Immonen debuted Never As Bad As You Think a few weeks ago at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Once they got back, it was put up for sale on their site and I promptly ordered one... which just arrived in the mail today.

The book is basically a series of vignettes, peering into the lives of a dozen or so people for just a few moments. A loving couple out for soup and coffee. A woman babysitting some cats. A fishmonger wearing a sandwich board. We see them just long enough to get a glimpse of who they are, and our attention is diverted over to the next. There's no plot, no deep characterization, no grand design. Just slices from life.

Ah, but clever are these Immonens! Chris Duffy points out some of Kathyrn's more inspired dialogue in his introduction, but still passes over some wonderful gems like "Don't slip on the advertising!" and "May I ask you how many kidneys you currently possess?" Lots of great, albiet small, moments throughout the whole book. And when you read Duffy's introduction and understand HOW this was written... well, it certainly makes for a more impressive yarn.

But let's not forget that Stuart fellow who drew the darned thing. I'm continually impressed by how much he can convey in so few lines. Despite the fact that many of his illustrations here have little or no backgrounds drawn in, the reader is always given more than enough information to determine a sense of place and of space that these characters inhabit. His figures are all unique, as well -- difficult to do given how simply he draws them.

I might add that there's one-page in the back with "Bios" of both Kathryn and Stuart. I thought it was clever and insightful, and speaks to not only their collective mindset but also to their relationship as husband and wife.

The book is small, physically. About the size of an index card, and only 64 pages. But it's in color, and only $5.95 so it's not at all a bad deal. I also ordered Stuart's 50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions, and they were kind enough to include a pair of Immonen postcards for free.

This is not a book for everybody, by any means. There are no superheroes, no Frank Cho-style buxom bathing beauties, no zombies, no mega-event crossovers, no guts and gore, nothing that's really going to attract the attention of your Newsaramas or Comic Book Resouceses... it's just good, solid comic book storytelling

If you're a regular of this blog, I think there's a more than fair chance that you'll appreciate this book. If you're not a regular... well, my opinion probably isn't worth diddly to you anyway.
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