People We Know

The characters in two graphic novels remind us of ourselves

Was it a real vision, like those experienced by American Indian teenagers who were attempting to contact the Great Spirit? Or just hallucination caused by stress and overwork? He thought the latter until four years later, when he came upon nearly 200-year-old letters brought to him by a neighbor, letters that recounted the experiences of a Reverend who was so disturbed by increasing visions of being followed around by a monkey that he finally killed himself. These letters are a conduit into a long-gone history that illuminates Glenn's fragile psychology.

One story uses the actual language of a boy's adoption papers—presumably Huizenga's, though that's not clear from the text—and puts them into frames that simulate Japanese watercolor paintings of waterfalls and moss-covered crags. The story of the boy's parents and their "reason for relinquishment" is ordinary—the mother is a factory girl impregnated by a man who didn't stick around. But juxtaposed against images of nature's enduring stillness, the history of these parents is told under the aspect of eternity and takes on a sort of melancholic universality as a result. Other stories include "Jeepers Jacobs," about a fundamentalist theology professor writing a (thoroughly researched and argued) paper on the existence and quality of Hell, in between playing golf with Glenn and his other suburban buddies; and "28th Street," an adopted folk tale in which Glenn enters a magical world in order to overcome the curse that's prevented his wife from getting pregnant. The sight of Glenn wandering through the suburban Waste Land—the story resolves itself literally in the basement of a shopping mall—in a search for fertility pointedly recalls and updates T.S. Eliot in a provocative way. Huizenga is a major talent.

LUCKY BY GABRIELLE BELL. 111 PP. $19.95. CURSES BY KEVIN HUIZENGA. 145 PP. $21.95. AVAILABLE AT WWW.DWWW.DRAWNANDQUARTERLY.COMRAWNANDQUARTERLY.COM.

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