Cri­sis Cen­tre

Comic, Ron Hotz, 33 pgs., best­dayevr.com

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

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)

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