Pat Grant’s first graphic novel Blue is an homage to place. More of a graphic novella than anything else, Blue is the story of three relative outcasts in Australia ditching school for some surf and a walk down some train tracks for a glimpse at a dead body.
If you’re reminded of King’s “The Body” you’re not far off as Grant himself acknowledges the tip of the cap to King’s story within his own in a beautiful essay/afterword about the origin of stories and how his graphic interpretation of such is very much meant to recount the other.
Overall, It’s a story of localism and territory. One of friendship amidst the stumblings and follies of youth. It’s a “day in the life” escapade and and caricature of as simplistic as it is original. Grant beautifully captures the transience of landscape through images that harken back to Seuss, twisty, turny, elongated structures that are otherworldly and fantastic, all of which bring to mind the fact that place is not stationary. Home changes quickly enough to render the present as past, and the past as history.
What I love so much about this particular novella is how Grant captures comics as icon before transforming it into something alien, something grotesque, yet strangely familiar.
With nods to Seussical whimsy, the brazen caricature of the underground masters like R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, and the marginalia of Chris Ware–Grant demonstrates his skill and sophistication in a book that is both powerful and original.
For the newcomer and mainstays of the genre, I couldn’t recommend Blue more. I look forward to reading more from Grant in the future.
Stars = 4/5