Koren Shadmi Love Addict and Jeff Lemire The Underwater Welder
Top Shelf Productions
Top Shelf Productions, riding high with the success of_The March_, have presented two compelling recent books – one a time-hopping Twilight Zone-esque tale, the other an seemingly autobiographical story of the highs and lows of modern dating.
In Koren Shadmi’s Love Addict: Confessions of a Serial Dater, recently single animator K reluctantly gives online dating a shot and the results are better than he could have imagined. For a guy who thought he had no game, “K” finds that a witty profile and ability to talk go a long way in the new world of online dating, and soon finds himself with more romantic action than he can handle.
Love Addict is reminiscent of autobiographical cartoonists Chester Brown and Joe Matt in its ability to unflinchingly depict a flawed protagonist. Shadmi effectively illustrates the toll his dating “addiction” takes on his career and his psyche, as well as his attitudes towards women, but with all the potential mates out in the big city, it’s hard to dial things back. While some of the dates could stand to be a bit more fleshed out, Shadmi deftly shows the excitement and perils of modern dating.
Shadmi has a clean, firm style, and an ear for dialogue making Love Addict a compelling and interesting read. Anyone interested in online dating, autobiographical comics, or just cartoons of people engaged in sex will find Love Addict an addicting read.
Less straightforward and autobiographical, Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder deals with Jack, a welder dealing with impending fatherhood. Jack’s upcoming responsibilities weigh heavy on his mind, as does his relationship with his deceased, alcoholic father. Part science fiction, part character study, The Underwater Welder is a haunting, time-shifting meditation on fathers and sons, forgiveness, and getting a chance to right wrongs.
Lemire’s artwork is looser and sketchier and Shadmi’s, better to convey the sense of lives out of whack, of claustrophobia, fear, and pressure in his work. The book closes with early sketches, including several detailed drawings of the town, which, while not necessarily used much in the story, lend the fictional town a weight and presence.
Taken together, these books would suggest a look into the fears, anxieties, and desires of 21st century males, but that probably wasn’t the plan. Both are readable, superbly illustrated, and haunting in their own ways.