Chiaroscuro: Patchwork Book 1 hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Troy Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Meanwhile Studios
Price: $24.99 US
When it was announced that IDW would publish Troy Little’s slightly surreal, slice-of-life comic, I was surprised but also elated. As someone who got on the Chiaroscuro train early on, I was eager to revisit the characters and story and to see how it progressed beyond the few individual episodes Little had self-published in the past. It had been quite some time since I delved into this odd story of urban ennui and angst, and everything felt new again as I thumbed through the pages. Little’s storytelling boasts a universal appeal, even in light of the eerie, tense moments in the plot. It’s easy for one to relate to the self-destructive protagonist’s frustration and depression. We’ve all experienced that horrendous mood when one wants to collapse in on oneself and hide from the world. The most interesting and challenging aspect of the story stems from the conflict, and it’s an internal one. The hero of the story is also the villain. Steven Patch is his own worst enemy, and while he’s not always the most likeable character, he is one with which the reader can empathize and identify. Little’s cartoony artwork exhibits a variety of eclectic influences, and while there’s an exaggerated tone to his figures, it’ his adept use of shadow and dead space that firmly establishes a strong, mature tone and an often palpably tense atmosphere as well.