By, Farel Dalrymple
If I’m being literal, I’d say that this book is about a boy who is experiencing symptoms of grief connected to the loss of his brother. He’s dissociating, irritated, angry, and feeling trapped. He’s looking for help and receives some from an elderly mentor, but not really. Additionally, he crushes on a more experienced girl, but isn’t really that interested; he enjoys the distraction she offers him.
However, the art is anything but straight forward. It’s trippy, with a home-grown look, and reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are – it’s unique and creative. Themes of pain and helplessness by the main character could refer to his state of being and not to a specific event or tragedy. The cryptic nature of the story adds to the mystery and propels my interest.
The main character, a boy named Sherwood, is lost in a fantasy land, or in his head, it’s not clear. He reaches out to an elderly scientist named Duke Herzog who provides support in the form of Zen-advice: better to enjoy the present then be preoccupied ruminating on the past or worrying about the future.
Sherwood has tried meditation, it doesn’t help but it “helped my abilities.” He makes things. Cools space ships, which he rides to different places, mostly to escape. Dr. Herzog makes cool contraptions, as well. Like a mechanical hand which doesn’t seem to have a purpose?
Overall, the art is very good. Readers will either love it or not. It’s got a minimalist style in parts; however, it’s filled out and very detailed in other parts. The art strongly reinforces the tone of the book. The boy’s apparent struggles with mood and growing up, and perhaps loss, are present throughout and approached in a sensitive manner. This book was satisfying and captured my attention.