Today on the site, we have AJ McGuire's review of Graham Chaffee's To Have & To Hold.
In Graham Chaffee’s Big Wheels, published by Fantagraphics in 1993, the narrative is handed off from one character to another as they pass by each other or interact throughout a single day in the city. This is a timeless device in short fiction, films, and comics which allows the artist to focus on whatever catches their fancy and avoid that which doesn’t. In Chaffee’s To Have and To Hold, published by Fantagraphics in 2017, he returns to the same device, but uses it exactly once and employs it towards different ends. Rather than using it as a trick to avoid a cohesive full-length story, its in service to the themes and character arcs.
Plenty of fiction has multiple protagonists at different times throughout the narrative. But to abandon one and fully switch to a second is rare. Psycho, the 1960 proto-slasher blockbuster, did something like this with a major and unexpected switch from one protagonist to another. Robert Bloch, the author of the novel from which Hitchcock’s movie was adapted, used this trick often in his fiction. He would introduce a sympathetic character and then kill them off. Chaffee, though, does something different. He doesn’t kill off a sympathetic character but rather a character slowly over the course of the story is revealed to be less and less sympathetic at the same time as a second character is moving through an opposite character arc becoming more central to the story and the reader's sympathies. Similar to Psycho, the narrative can only fully switch to the new protagonist by the death of one at the hands of the other.
—Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie will be inducted into the Giants of the North Canadian Hall of Fame.
Fiona Smyth, an artist and teacher known for her groundbreaking comics tackling female sexuality, and Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007), a multi-faceted artist, writer, activist, and cartoonist recognized for his satirical comics about Inuit life in Canada, will be inducted next month into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame for Canadian cartoonists.
For more than three decades, Fiona Smyth’s work has straddled art, comics, and murals. Since her days as a student at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in the mid-1980s, her comics have been marked by a bold and overt sexuality—rare for a female cartoonist at the time—that often, erroneously, saw her labeled an anti-feminist. Alongside her countless self-published zines, Smyth’s comics have appeared in Vice, Exclaim!, and her pioneering 1990s Vortex series, Nocturnal Emissions.
—Cleveland.com talks to John Backderf about his planned book about the Kent State shootings.
“I’ve boiled the story down to showing how it unfolded,” Derf said. “It’s a very personal account of this shocking event that still reverberates today. I think that’s when history is at its best, is when you boil it down to people.”
The book took three years of research by Derf, who pored over the archives at Kent State University and spoke to witnesses and victims of the shooting.