I take great pride in my luck finding really cool comics/graphic novels outside the common knowledge. Have you read Watchmen? Yeah, probably. What about DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths? Pretty good chance of that, too. But what about Stitches? Aha! I’ve got you, haven’t I? Good, because for today’s Comic Book Club selection we have a really good book by David Small, so hang on and let’s talk comics.
Stitches: A Memoir is a style of comics I don’t usually go for. I’m just not big on the self-biopic seen most notably in Persepolis or Fun Home, both decent but hindered greatly by truth, or whatever “truth” they choose to tell. Stitches is a little different here since the story at work plays out as a real story rather than a collections of events. Persepolis was good, but it didn’t feel like it had a real build or a satisfying conclusion. With Stitches, there seems like just enough here to get engaged with, build to reveals and an ultimate conclusion, but it doesn’t feel like it’s slamming you over the head with a message or something overly ambitious, as biopics tend to do.
This isn’t to say Stitches is without value. I don’t want to accidentally undersell it because it’s definitely something that got under my skin and stuck there. I was able to read it in probably an hour, though the imagery is still with me. I was given the advantage of going in 100% fresh, allowing myself to experience Stitches exactly as a story I don’t know anything about. I recommend doing the same, so I’m not going to tell any of the plot.
In essence, Stitches is a book that writer and artist David Small wrote as a means of dealing with his own past. He’s done art for other books over his career, such as So You Want To Be President, but this was his project and his alone, showing great care to create a profoundly spooky atmosphere with simple textless images. There are points that you’ll be unsettled just from watching the characters walk around hallways or stare at each other. I’m going with the trite description and say that Stitches is truly “haunting” in its presentation, leaving you shocked at appropriate times and smirking at others. The art is incredibly familiar but unknown at the same time. It’s really just cool to look at.
I’m at a loss here because if I say too much, the impact won’t be the same, but if I say too little it might discourage you from picking up an honestly fantastic read. So I’m going to go ahead and let Small’s work speak for itself. Go read Stitches either at your local library or pick it up cheap on Amazon. I can’t overstate my recommendation here. This is a graphic novel that shows just how much the medium has evolved in such a short time, so high praise. Now go read it daggumit!
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