Monday, July 02, 2007

House

Josh Simmons

House is the first full-length graphic novel from Josh Simmons, told completely wordless. The three characters that appear in the book are teenagers who explore decrepit old houses and make googly eyes at one another as they carelessly trek through ruins. This is a very brisk read, and a very bleak one, but really, Simmons' art is pretty amazing in the end. He really proves his prowess with beautiful scenes of forests and houses that have long since been submerged in water. I'm sure we'll see plenty of great stuff from this creator in the future. Unfortunately, I do have a few small problems with what appears here. I'm fine with the characters as they gesture to each other and laugh at jokes we don't know, because in the end, it doesn't matter what they're saying, we understand the bond and relationships between the characters through their actions. And that's pretty amazing in itself. The gestures do get to be a little too exaggerated sometimes, but I can forgive that for the most part. But when one girl glares menacingly, a little too blatantly, across the page at a newly-formed couple, it does take me out of the book. A little more subtlety would have worked wonders, but I'm not sure it was possible in the story at hand, at least the way it was told. Overall, Simmons does a great job at conveying atmosphere and making his readers feel the way he wants them to feel. But there were a few times when I was confused as to what was going on. I couldn't tell whether someone was supposed to be dead at one point and they reappear later just fine. Maybe we weren't supposed to know their state at that point, but it bothered me and once again, took me out of the read at a point when the book began to spiral in a very dark direction. A few small things mar a really great book, which is unfortunate since the story had such a nice flow to it. But what is here that works is really amazing and I can't wait for more from Josh Simmons. This just isn't his masterpiece. It's a great debut novel from a promising talent. B

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