Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book One

By Kevin Huizenga and Nicolas Robel
96 pages, two-color
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

One of the great things about the original Drawn & Quarterly anthology was how each new issue would introduce new and upcoming talents in comics who may not have received wider exposure in the comics industry. While the new annual anthology volumes still do that, it’s great to see Drawn & Quarterly taking a new proactive role in bringing this talent to the forefront. That’s where Drawn & Quarterly Showcase comes from, helping identify and celebrate the new superstars of comics. But are the choices for this first book the real deal?

Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book One focuses on two creators: Kevin Huizenga and Nicolas Robel. Huizenga is best known for his Supermonster minicomics, telling primarily slice of life stories where our everyday world is mixed with magic realism and hope. Robel’s stories are less grounded in reality, where our world and the fantastic are one and the same. At a glance, there’s certainly similarities. But in the end, the two creators show a sharp contrast to one another.

Huizenga’s half of Drawn & Quarterly Showcase is used for three short stories focusing around his protagonist Glenn Ganges and his wife Wendy. There’s a subtle link between the three stories, as it moves from a rumination brought on by flyers for missing children, to trying to have children of their own, to a flock of birds brought on by Glenn’s search for children. Sound like a bit of a reach? Anything but. Huizenga’s three stories flow into each other effortlessly, letting him tell three different tales while still providing a unified whole for his part of the book. What interested me the most about the stories was how Huizenga grounds the first story in reality, then slowly lets the fantastic creep in. Glenn’s quest for an ogre’s feather to help his wife become pregnant, for instance, is still grounded in the world around him. Huizenga’s story makes it all feel natural, and it’s a real feat. Huizenga’s art looks really attractive in a two-color printing process. Huizenga’s drawing of Glenn with his solid eyes and button nose gives him a nice vulnerable look that really helps you empathize with him. The green inks give it a nice texture, never overused or blatant. Huizenga’s subtle art is a perfect match for his stories.

Robel’s half of Drawn & Quarterly Showcase is distinctly less subtle, though. Printed in reds and greens, it assaults your eyes the second you open the book with its colors at war. The panels are full of action and zigzagging lines that fill up each panel, always keeping the reader busy. The whole package works well together, with the colors providing a softness that the inks on their own might not have provided. The drawings, the word balloons, and the art all work together as a unified whole that most artists find hard to achieve. The story itself is much more fantastical than Huizenga’s entry, with the protagonist’s spirit traveling through memories dealing with separation and isolation. It hammers its points home a little too much, though, and what could have been a powerful shorter story seems to overstay its welcome by just a little too much. I wish Robel had gone for two shorter stories instead, but there’s still enough positive aspects on display to want to see more by Robel in the future.

Does Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Book One succeed in showcasing two up-and-coming comic creators? Very much so. After reading this book you’ll definitely want to buy more comics from Huizenga sight unseen, and certainly want to see more of Robel’s works as well. Drawn & Quarterly’s track record for creators has always been extremely strong, and a Drawn & Quarterly Showcase looks to be a vanguard of introducing new talent to their already-impressive stable. I, for one, can’t wait to see who they find for Book Two.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

Comments are closed.