Comic Heroes - - Comics We Rate - Gra­ham Kib­ble-White

Writer: Jeremy Sorese

Artist: Jeremy Sorese

Pub­lisher: NoBrow

For­mat: Graphic novel

Curve­ball is a fat book (no less than 420 pages). It’s a beau­ti­ful book. But it’s a baf­fling book.

The story is set in a so­ci­ety that was once to­tally de­pen­dent on ro­bots but is now – thanks to en­ergy short­ages – be­ing forced to adapt to life mostly off the grid.

Am­bling through this sci­encefic­tion set­ting is Avery, a waiter who re­mains ro­man­ti­cally stuck on Christophe, a naval of­fi­cer who is away at war – and has never showed any in­ten­tion of com­mit­ting to a re­la­tion­ship. Ul­ti­mately, it’s more a case of Avery self-in­dul­gently moon­ing af­ter some­thing he se­cretly knows never was. When asked about Christophe’s ob­tuse­ness, he con­fesses: “I’m pretty guilty of en­joy­ing not hav­ing my an­swer.”

Jeremy Sorese has writ­ten and drawn this in­trigu­ingly fu­tur­is­tic graphic novel. His world-build­ing is ad­mirable, par­tic­u­larly the di­gres­sion into how the mil­i­tary has been tran­si­tion­ing into old­fan­gled ana­logue tech­nol­ogy for code-break­ing and nav­i­ga­tion (“But what if you can’t find a pen, then what?!” moans one re­fusenik). But none of this seems to in­form the main nar­ra­tive. It just sits there along­side the hu­man story. It makes for a rather dis­con­nected read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

This isn’t helped by Sorese’s car­toon­ing. There’s no deny­ing that his work is beau­ti­ful and de­tailed – it has the smooth kind of rough­ness of an an­i­matic – but his story-telling is of­ten con­fus­ing and it can be dif­fi­cult to get the ge­og­ra­phy of any scene or grasp char­ac­ters’ pro­gres­sion through it. In ad­di­tion, he loves his di­a­logue. Pro­tag­o­nists are con­tin­u­ally re­lay­ing anec­dotes or ver­bal­is­ing their thoughts at length. In this al­ready vis­ually busy world, it just adds more clut­ter – a blur of chat­ter.

If any­thing, Curve­ball feels like a source book for some­thing that could have great prom­ise, if only it could just find its fo­cus.

Curve­ball is beau­ti­ful but a tad baf­fling.

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