Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Religion Books—nonfiction / Graphic Nove - PETER DABBENE

Aaron Costain, Se­cret Acres (JUNE) Soft­cover $19.95, (144pp), 978-0-9962739-8-5

Strange, sur­real, and sym­bolic, Aaron Costain’s graphic novel, En­tropy, probes some of the deep­est ques­tions about cre­ation with a funny, ab­surd sen­si­bil­ity that makes it all go down smoothly.

The book opens with a mys­te­ri­ous char­ac­ter in a parka, sun­glasses, and ski mask, who notes what could be En­tropy’s theme: “My father al­ways told me to ‘mind the four M’s’ … you mustn’t mix and match mytholo­gies.” The char­ac­ter, later re­vealed to be a golem, is soon vis­ited by an an­gel who makes an­other golem, and the two golems pro­ceed on a bizarre jour­ney to dis­cover the truth about cre­ation. It in­volves a talk­ing cat, a talk­ing pen­guin, a talk­ing grasshop­per, the grasshop­per’s ghost (who also talks), and a raven seem­ingly in­tent on de­struc­tion. As En­tropy un­folds, an in­creas­ingly com­plex cre­ation myth emerges. Though it in­volves el­e­ments of sev­eral ex­ist­ing cul­tures, the cross-pol­li­nated mix is dis­tinc­tively Costain’s own.

Costain’s black-and-white art is a won­der to behold, dis­tin­guished by pre­cise, de­tailed lines. But he also has an ex­quis­ite feel for de­sign, com­po­si­tion, and good old-fash­ioned car­toon­ing, know­ing when to keep it sim­ple and when to pro­vide weight by adding tex­ture and depth.

There’s weight in the sub­ject mat­ter as well, with its ex­plo­ration of ba­sic ex­is­ten­tial ques­tions. But while that sub­ject might seem suited only to se­ri­ous book-club dis­cus­sion groups, Costain is able to strike a palat­able bal­ance through hu­mor—as when a dog, held up as an ex­am­ple of the limited help­ful­ness of talk­ing an­i­mals, re­counts ab­sently: “I barfed up some meat I ate yes­ter­day. Then I ate that.”

The book’s end­ing of­fers food for thought, and is open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion as the con­clu­sion of the search de­scribed in its pages, or as the re­newal of yet an­other cy­cle. En­tropy is en­ter­tain­ing and bizarre, but also deeply con­tem­pla­tive. It’s a unique of­fer­ing that com­pels mul­ti­ple read­ings.

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