Friday, March 7, 2014
31 Days of Short Reviews #7: Nick Andors
Nick Andors' debut A Frozen World is a gritty howl of a comic, one that's perhaps too dependent on shock value and twists and not confident enough in its character-building. The story links together four different character narratives that take place in the distopian city of Irongates, which is partly a metaphor for urban life and partly a metaphor for prison, though for Andors the difference between the two can be considered negligible. The first story is short and mostly serves as set-up for the rest of the narratives, as it depicts what life is like in the city and how some people find ways to escape the mandatory "lock-up" at night and wander around the city. The second story follows a member of the "body patrol", a worker whose job it is to pick up the many corpses that litter the streets of the city. This particular patrolman has been mute to most partners for years after his pregnant wife was murdered in the streets on the day he got married. This story loads up on the pathos and doubles down on misery, though it does allow its protagonist a sweet ending of sorts.
There is potential to be found in this first work by an artist who clearly poured everything he had into this book. Visually, the resemblance to Farel Dalrymple's realistic but occasionally grotesque and fantastic rendering style is pronounced. There's a heavy reliance on spotting blacks as a means of creating the book's relentlessly downbeat atmosphere. Andors' chops are not quite up to the task of maintaining steady character rendering on page after page, with some figures looking cruder than others. The shock value employed on a number of pages was less interesting than his actual attempts at character development, especially with regard to Anneka. She's an interesting character despite the cliches of her background, and the certain death she faces at the end (without revealing her actual fate) was a clever resolution of her storyline. This book might have had a great emotional impact if Andors had been a bit more restrained in his use of gore and violence, and it seems that in general as a cartoonist, restraint and greater simplicity would be useful watchwords for him.