In the paper this week, I wrote about The Wrenchies a new graphic novel from Portland cartoonist Farel Dalrymple. Long story short: I loved it, you're probably going to be hearing about it for a while, and you should swing by the release party at Floating World tomorrow to pick up a copy. For fans of: Nate Powell, Dash Shaw, Brandon Graham.
The only really effective way to explain The Wrenchies would be to physically hand you a copy of The Wrenchies —summarizing Portland creator Farel Dalrymple's singular new graphic novel is nearly impossible. Here are few possibilities: It's about a dystopian future where fierce bands of marauding children do battle against soul-crushing shadow men. It's about a delusional drug addict driven insane by childhood trauma. It's about a mad scientist's overcomplicated plan to save the world, with the help of a team of superheroes imprisoned in a magical amulet. It's about a sad, bullied nerd who finds consolation in comics and his imagination. The Wrenchies contains all of these occasionally contradictory storylines; at times I found myself trying to figure out which version of events was "true"—as though some fictional realities are realer than others. The Wrenchies is so resolutely multidimensional that it's tempting, upon finishing the book, to turn it upside down, or try to read it back to front, to see what other worlds it might contain. Reminiscent at times of Stephen King, TS Eliot, and The Warriors, Dalrymple's created a world where linear narrative is exploded for the artifice it is; all that's left is creepiness, humor, sorrow, and despair. If this sounds like a bummer... well, it kind of is, but in the best way. It helps Dalrymple's art is absolutely stunning, whether he's drawing the scowling faces of battle-worn children, the floor plans of elaborate buildings, or stark images of alcoholism and squalor. The colors are atmospheric and deliberate, and every panel contains just a bit more detail than you'd expect it to. If you're looking for a three-act narrative structure that ties up with a bow, give this one a pass—but if you're comfortable with things getting a little bit weird, The Wrenchies is a must-read.
The art is gorgeous and wonderful and you can preview it here, but I'll leave you with the panel I have been repeatedly texting my boyfriend since reading it: