There are certain artists where you can point to their drawing style and see exactly who influenced them. Patrick J. Lee obviously “grew up” on Adrian Tomine, Dave Sim (the early stuff at least) just screams Barry Windsor-Smith, and Scott Mills was clearly influenced by Tom Hart. It’s easy sometimes to stop there, to put the comic down in the store before you buy it because you think maybe that’s all the artist is doing, ripping the guy off. Lucky for me, if I have any money and I see a mini comic in the store, I buy it and give it a chance. This is the best mini I’ve read in the last year, and I’ve read a lot of good stuff in that time.
It’s a simple story. Two men are in jail, Wendell and Steve, and neither one of them has a hope of getting out. Looking at it again so I could write this review, I see that it’s only 21 pages. The strength of this book lies in what isn’t said almost more than what is. We never see what put either one of these men in jail, although we do see the reaction of Wendell when he is pressured by Steve to tell him. We also never really see anybody else in this prison, having only one sentence by a prison guard. I think it was Scott McCloud who talked about the space between panels and, as much as I disagree with a lot of the things he’s said, he was right on this one. Wendell never really admitting to himself that he had a friend, Steve’s fear of him at times, Steve’s dream and where they must have come from in his life…
Anyway, buy this book. I don’t want to ruin anything in this book by talking about it too much. It’s two bucks, it’ll probably take you about five minutes to read and it’s one of those things that you’ll want to show to the people who don’t read comics. Oh yeah, and it’s a Xeric Award winner.