The Book Tour
Written and illustrated by Andi Watson
Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing
There is nothing more anticlimactic than publishing a book. G.H. Fretwell has a few novels under his belt, and somehow he scrapes by on the limited royalties he harvests. Fretwell leaves his wife and child behind to hit the rubber chicken circuit and meets some old writing pals. But nothing goes right: rain drives the patrons away from his signing, cartons of books fail to arrive leaving nothing to sell, restaurants reject him, and his seedy hotel eventually downgrades him to sleeping on the street. Then the police send him into jail for an unnamed crime. My guess: he wrote in a passive voice, and our protagonist receives no forgiveness from the picky readers of the world. And we haven’t read a single line he wrote.
This one-person product offers a low-grade creepy effect, underpinned by the normal comedy of minor slips that drive innocent people to desperation. Author and illustrator Watson tells most of the story via his pen strokes. Text is minimal, and the world he draws feels vaguely like the out-of-date Europe you might find in cities you’ve heard of but would never vacation in. Bruges. Darmstadt. Bilbao. Fretwell is bland but likeable: the universal everyman. And when we leave him on page 234, he is lost, alone, and no one seems to care, or can even explain what sort of trouble he is in. I think we’ve all been there. This is a quick and easy read, with the backdrops telling more of the story than the words. A few adult elements pop up, but nothing you’d be ashamed to show your mom. I like this book, and I like Watson’s world. It’s completely believable and utterly creepy. And creepy works best when you can’t even say exactly what’s wrong. Maybe nothing is wrong. Bad things happen to good people every day. Look upon this man, and be warned.