by Alex Robinson
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Format: Hardcover, 5x7, black & white, $14.95
Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly
Robinson (Box Office Poison, Tricked) returns with his latest, a high-concept graphic novella. In 2010, mild-mannered software engineer Andrew Wicks goes to a hypnotist to quit smoking, but wakes up from his trance to find himself in high school in 1985. While the “Peggy Sue Quits Smoking” premise could have been disastrous, with this slim volume, Robinson cements his reputation as a master cartoonist. The art is exceptional. His characters are all visually distinct, with subtle facial expressions and body language. He uses layout and even lettering to establish mood and keep the reader firmly fixed through complicated shifts in time, place and perception. Two sequences—the initial hypnosis scene and a later confrontation between two characters—are bravura performances, using innovative but still clear ways of depicting complicated inner monologues. Unfortunately, while Robinson has mastered the “graphic,” his skill with the “novel” lags behind, with some wordy dialogue and occasional narrative clunkers: one piece of foreshadowing is so clumsy it reads better as a typographical error. When Robinson the writer catches up with Robinson the artist, watch out. Even with its flaws, this is still a master class in graphic storytelling.