Riding along with “The Retreat” from Humanoids Well Worth the Trip

Humanoids Press
“The Retreat”
Writer: Pierre Wazem
Artist: Tom Tirabosco

Review by Chris Keefe

I’m going to walk you through this book as I read it, but if you are reading this you can bet the book is good, or I wouldn’t have bothered posting it.

Again, exceptional Humanoids design. These people are so good at putting a good looking book together.

So, I’m hooked by page two.  So hooked in fact, I’m going to use the pages as examples in my next Graphic Novel class. While there is nothing earth-shattering on these pages, they are so well paced, drop just enough hints of something else, and use silent panels so effectively, that yeah I’m ready to go along for the ride.

They are going for a ride, by the way.

The art is simpler, distinct and clearly competent, but lacks a bit of emotional pop.  However, Tirabosco’s images manage some very subtle reactions, which carry the story forward.

It is amazing how well paced the beginning of this book is.  It reads a lot more like poetry than prose.  A bit here, another moment here, but all moving forward in a believable progression.  It is a book that trusts its reader to figure stuff out for themselves.

The dialogue suggests stuff rather than hitting you in the face with an exposition pie.  They are in no hurry to unravel the mystery hinted at in the beginning of the story.  In fact, I think Wazem takes some impish pleasure in dragging it out.

There are a couple of places I could have used panels a bit more responsive to the writing, but this is minor, mostly details that were only mentioned but not really shown.  And some of the word bubbles are misplaced so you end up reading them in wrong order, but once they’re read you get the idea.

This is a great book, that moves along quickly, with snappy dialog that is often genuinely surprising.  Not every transition is perfect, but it bounces around from topic to topic effortlessly and comfortably.  The characters have distinct and consistent points of view.

Good use of light, accurate, careful details, in the art. Even though it is cartoony, the visual story-telling manages to be subtle and delicate. Good repetitious humor, good visual humor. Some really nice wordless sequences.

Good use of subtext the whole second half, Wazem plants his seeds well.  Did he, didn’t he, we don’t know.

Okay, done!

You probably didn’t noticed I didn’t write much the second half of the book, but that’s because I didn’t want to pull myself away from the story.

Yeah, this is a winner.  I’m going out and buying a copy (already did by the time this posts) for a friend, and probably a copy to have with me in class.  It is a very approachable book for a student I think, and the art is not too complicated as to be intimidating.

More importantly, This is great, graphic story telling for anyone.  However you end up feeling about the ending, you walk away from it with a specific kind of feeling.  It reads like over-hearing a conversation in coffee shop. Again, let’s call it poetry.

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