James Cadelli, Getting Out of Hope (Conundrum, 2017). $18, paper.
At first glance this book might look like an amateur affair. Do not be deceived: although his work can look at first raw and untrained, Cadelli is a master graphic storyteller already in every sense. Weaving together the story of a range of seemingly unlikable characters stuck in a decidedly unlikable town called Hope, the book ends up making us care about all of them—and even wish that they might find a way to make Hope work. But the graphic novel is true to its title, and in the end all of our protagonists—curmudgeonly, elderly Jojo; the drugdealing Tom; gruff Marnie, the building manager; the three wandering stoners who wash up in their busted RV; and even the ghoulish Jean-Sam and his penchant for taking photographs of dead animals (and people)—are shown to be worthy of our affections and attentions and free to find out what lies beyond Hope. In the end, Getting Out of Hope is one of the most surprisingly effective books I have read in a while; it crept up on me when I was looking for reasons why it wasn’t “working” and it and its motley denizens took up residence in a soft spot I had been thinking was long calloused over. With a bit more mileage on his drawign chops, Cadelli could end up being one of the great comics storytellers of his generation. And if his art doesn’t develop a bit, I will still seek out whatever comes next.
Jared Gardner is the editor of Inks and a professor at Ohio State University, where he teaches comics, American lit, and film. His books can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Jared-Gardner/e/B001KHO9K4/