Launching today on Kickstarter is a campaign for Grief, an all-original graphic novel about sorrow and loss from writer Frank Gogol and a host of collaborators.
I’ve been lucky in my life to not have to grieve for many people or things I’ve lost for good. From the grief I have experienced, both personally and in supporting my friends, I’ve learned that grief is a permanently ongoing process. It isn’t a single thing or a passing feeling.
If you view it negatively, you could say grief is like a virus that has been introduced into your psyche, one for which there is no cure or permanent recovery. You can ignore it or build up defenses against it, but ultimately you need to experience it to begin to recover.
If you view it as an inevitable part of the human experience, you might instead think of grief like an update to your operating system. Some things will change that you wanted to stay the same. Other things will be streamlined or totally new to you. It will feel alien and miserable at first. Eventually, it will simply be how you operate.
Grief is much more in line with the latter perspective than the former. It’s not a lot of people having nervous breakdowns about how sad they are. It’s about characters coming to terms with a transformed life.
Frank Gogol shared an early copy of Grief with me for review, but the only way for you to get your hands on this comic is to pledge to Kickstarter – a digital copy is just $5!
Want to know more? Keep reading!
Grief – stories by Frank Gogol (Kickstarter)
Written and designed by Frank Gogol. Line art by Nenad Cviticanin, Bethany Vani, Ryan Foust, Jey Soliva, and Kim Holm. Colors by Esther Gil-Munilla, Luca Bulgheroni, Nenad Cviticanin, Bethany Vani, and Emily Elmer. Letters by Sean Rinehart. Cover by Dani Martins.
Bottom line: This indie comic anthology themed on grief rarely cries, never preaches, and is surprisingly sparse on treacle. It packs its punch not with heroes (though there are a few) or tear-jerkers (though a few tales come close), but with story after story that squeeze meaningful character moments into just five pages each.
Grief is an anthology about all kinds of loss, but it’s not a downer. Instead, it’s an introspective look at how grief is a twisting path that can be full of sorrow and loss but also hope and gifts – sometimes both at once.
This series of ten vignettes each have an indie comic look and feel. The characters populate a world adjacent the high-flying, super-powered, magic-wielding heroes we love from glossy superhero comics. For some stories, we’re in the middle of that world, but in others we’re on the margins. Some of the tales could work as introductions to ongoing series, but others are complete and satisfying all on their own.
Two of the best stories in the anthology, “Gravity” and “The World,” feel like pilots to incredible indie super comics that ought to be. Yet, their narrative punch comes from delivering truth about their characters in a handful of pages, not from big action beats.
By contrast, “Different” and “Highs and Lows” are both self-contained character studies, each about how you can find something new within loss. More pages wouldn’t change their stories – they might even lose their impact if they were longer.
Before I made it that deep into Grief, the first thing that struck me was that it looks like a major publisher comic book.
There are many brilliant authors and artists in the indie crowdfunding world with genius to offer, but being good at their craft doesn’t make them good graphic designers.
We’ve all learned not to judge a book by its cover, but poor choices in colors, fonts, and layouts can kill a project before it ever finds a fanbase. Even many mid-sized comic publishers can’t design an attractive book jacket to save their lives (or businesses).
Grief‘s graphic design (by author Frank Gogol!) is strong, from the stark, shattered logo to the placid blue of the interstitial pages drawn by cover artist Dani Martins. It feels a lot like Jonathan Hickman’s approach to collection design, where even the chapter breaks are part of the story. [Read more…] about Comic Book Review: Grief, an OGN anthology by Frank Gogol (launching TODAY on Kickstarter!)