Comic, Ron Hotz, 33 pgs., bestdayevr.com
Comic artist Ron Hotz marks a departure from his webcomic Best Day Evr with this book, Crisis Centre. It is a collection of narratives and illustrations remembering his work as a crisis centre counselor in the 1990s in a downtown Toronto facility, serving survivors of physical and sexual abuse, people dealing with substance abuse and others struggling with mental health.
Each two-page spread is a one-two punch: dramatic crisis centre narrative on the left, full-colour illustration on the right. Ron’s graphical work can take on a collage-like freneticism, with compounded sketchbook-style illustrations careening off the page. Otherwise, they are quite literal one-page illustrative interpretations of the companion crisis centre vignettes.
Ron’s crisis centre memories cast light on painful human experiences: 10-year-old twins subjected to incest in exchange for money for brownie uniforms; real and/or delusional remembrances of ritualized abuse of children by city dignitaries in small town Quebec; a phone conversation
with one woman becomes a conversation with two of her multiple personalities. Though short, they are powerful stories of people struggling and seeking help.
Transitioning from these selections, Ron moves on to an appendix of original artwork and sketches he created while working overnight phone shifts at the centre. The 24 pieces range from primitive doodles to cardboard and paper mashups. These are very random, but taken together with the new pieces described above, they give interesting insight into Ron’s style. (Joshua Barton)