22 February 2018

The Case of the Missing Men by Kris Bertin

Our blog's first review of a graphic novel! Coooool! What is also cool is that this is our second review of a writer who works with Biblioasis (a Canadian publication based out of Windsor, Ontario), with the first being Meg's review of our friend Dave's Peninsula Sinking which you can read here. So Biblioasis, if you're reading, we are ready for a full-time partnership lol.

I have read a few graphic novels over the years. Like a lot of people I jumped on the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World train and borrowed all six volumes after seeing the movie by Edgar Wright. From there my only other experience with a graphic novel is My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf which doubles as a memoir. My Friend Dahmer is about Backderf's high school friendship with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. It was well illustrated and well told. But again, it was my first real experience reading a story in this format.

Essentially what I'm trying to say is that I have SOME experience reading graphic novels, but don't devote my bookshelf to them. So I'll be reviewing The Case of the Missing Men with this limited amount of knowledge about what makes a strong graphic novel, or how it would compare to others.

The Case of the Missing Men is written by Kris Bertin and illustrated by Alexander Forbes. My friend Kurtis sent me this book to review, and I was excited by the opportunity because I love to check out projects by people from the Maritimes (Bertin grew up in Lincoln, New Brunswick, but is now based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.)

So I was offered the book by Kurtis, intrigued by the local-ish connection, but really sold by the first line on the back summary: "Nancy Drew meets David Lynch in this mystery thriller set in a remote and eerie east-coast village." My boyfriend has been watching the return of Twin Peaks and I've also been binging a lot of Riverdale so it felt like the perfect time to give it a go.

The Case of the Missing Men is set in a small town in Nova Scotia and focuses on a group of high school students whose extracurricular is their detective club. A newcomer named Sam shows up and the club decides to work with him to find his missing father. Other men have gone missing in Hobtown, but things start to escalate quickly when the lunch lady is murdered.

From here things get weird.. the perpetrators are dead-eyed and zombie-like, but also act a lot like dogs. I am not going to go too much into plot because this is a mystery comic. The book's spine actually has a "1" on it indicating that there will be more Hobtown Mystery Stories to come.

The illustrations of these men are super creepy, and it was interesting to read something where you don't rely on written physical descriptions. This is one of the things I enjoyed most about the book. My favourite scene was when the detective club was working together but their group was shown through a set of binoculars, indicating that they were being watched by someone unknown:

This is what's cool about graphic novels. A lot of the time you get your feeling mystery from the illustration. Bertin doesn't have to write anything during this scene to set an air of unease because Forbes' illustration already sets the tone.

This is a fairly serious mystery in that you feel like there are real consequences for the characters... unlike Nancy Drew you don't know if they are going to make it out in one piece. But Bertin never takes it too seriously. There is plenty of opportunity for comic relief and this is usually done through two high school jocks who are part of the club.

All-in-all, you don't need to have a huge collection of graphic novels in order to be interested in The Case of the Missing Men. It's easy enough to follow along and the illustrations are really lovely. If you are interested in supporting local writers and illustrators, give it a go!

1 comment:

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