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Brunton, Tessa – Passage




Hey artists, I have a rare rhetorical question for you all that I actually wouldn’t mind an answer to: when somebody says that they thoroughly enjoyed your book/comic/whatever, is it an insult or a compliment for them to say that what they really wanted was to see more? I’d think of that as a compliment, but maybe it’s an insult to the idea of your comic as a complete thing by itself. Either way, and with no insult intended, the only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it felt like a part of a larger whole. Not that it wasn’t complete by itself, it just felt like this could have been 32 pages in the middle of a graphic novel and it would have fit in just fine. This is Tessa’s story of her life when she was roughly 12 and a rite of passage that had been planned for her older brother. Her brother (Finn) had been retreating from the family more and more as he got older, so his dad and a few of his friends wanted to get together to throw him a sort of rite of passage ceremony. Tessa shows brilliantly how her parents had given up many of the trappings of a conventional life years ago, wanting only to exist in their own space with their family, so they thought it was important to let Finn know that his gradually pulling away from them was OK, but they also thought it was important to give him a few pieces of advice before he got too far away. It’s tricky to describe the narrative of this comic, as it bounced around a bit between Tessa and Finn and their parents effortlessly, but it never felt scattered or unfocused. Tessa is becoming a woman but is still forced to deal with her mother’s habit of treating her like a child, their dad had quit his job and loved goofing around with his friends (but still seemed to be an attentive and focused father from what we see here), their mom had her quirks like painting in her studio without showing the art to anybody but was also incredibly devoted to her children, and Finn had moved his stuff into a gazebo in the backyard to highlight his separation from his family. This comic comes down to being able to recognize the times when you’re effortlessly happy and to enjoy them while they’re happening, and who can’t get behind that? The art is layered and complex, far behind the abilities of a non-drawing human like me to fully document but trust me, there is plenty going on in every panel. Her two page spread of her house growing up is a real thing of beauty. There are plenty of tidbits in here that make me want to see the rest of the story, although at least one of those tidbits suggests that she may not be comfortable telling any more. Either way this is a hell of a comic, and looking around online I see that it was rightly nominated for a few awards. I can also see that she’s working on a longer story and has a few older comics available, so there’s still plenty to look forward to from her/go back and read. $6.50