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French, Renee – The Ticking



The Ticking

I don’t think anybody out there does silent comics better than Renee French. Granted, this graphic novel isn’t completely silent, but the sheer amount of silence really magnifies the few words that do make it through. This is the story of Edison Steelhead… hey wait a minute, doesn’t she already have a graphic novel about Edison Steelhead? Yes she does, and if you were mystified by that book, it ends up serving as a great companion piece to this book, as that’s a series of drawings and this character is an artist. Anyway! We see Edison born, we see that his mother didn’t survive the birth and that Edison was born deformed like his father. He basically looks like Tina from “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” by Dan Clowes, what with eyeballs on the side of his head and all. We gradually (and I really need to emphasize “gradually,” as Renee’s ability to reveal these story bits piece by piece is remarkable) see Edison grow up, see when Edison figures out that his father had had cosmetic surgery to fix his deformity, and see Edison’s own struggle to either cover up his appearance like his father or embrace it and take on the world. It does say which way he decides on the back of this book, but I consider that a spoiler and it’s not like you’re reading the back of the book right now anyway, so I’ll leave it a mystery. The story scrapes right up against “uplifting” a few times but never quite makes it, which was the perfect tone for it. I also have to point out the existence of Edison’s adopted sister and how much I love that the obvious questions about her existence (you’ll know what I mean when you read this) are never addressed. This book somehow snuck by me when it was released in 2005, but if you’re looking for a hefty graphic novel from this woman then you’re in luck. And if you’ve heard her name and aren’t sure where to dive into her work, I can’t imagine a better place to start. $20

theticking2Renee F