An extended poetic gaze on intergenerational helplessness and the violence it begets... Dandro expertly balances a child’s-eye view with authorial empathy. This gloriously scribbled story doesn’t rest on easy morals, or even attempt to forgive the past—Dandro’s triumph is drawing the reader through both the pain and beauty of his upbringing, and then moving forward.Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
A DYNAMIC AND DEVASTATING MEMOIR ABOUT THE CYCLE OF TRAUMA CAUSED BY ADDICTION WITHIN ONE FAMILY
From a child’s-eye view, Travis Dandro recounts growing up with a drug-addicted birth father, alcoholic step-dad, and overwhelmed mother. As a kid, Dandro would temper the tension of his every day with flights of fancy, finding refuge in toys and animals and insects rather than the unpredictable adults around him. Dandro perceptively details the effects of poverty and addiction on a family while maintaining a child’s innocence for as long as he can.
King of King Court spans from Travis’s early childhood through his teen years, focusing not only on the obviously abusive actions, but also on the daily slights and snubs that further strain relations between him and his parents. Alongside Dandro’s birth father committing crimes and shooting up, King of King Court lingers on scenes of him criticizing Travis and his siblings. Dandro gives equal heft to these anecdotes, emphasizing how damaging even relatively slight traumas can be to a child’s worldview.
As Travis matures into young adulthood and begins to understand the forces shaping his father’s toxic behaviours, the story becomes even more nuanced. Travis is empathetic to his father’s own tragic history, but unable to escape the cycle of misconduct and reprisals they are caught in. King of King Court is a revelatory autobiography that examines trauma, addiction, and familial relations in a unique and sensitive way.
Praise for King of King Court
King of King Court is an excellent reminder of how evocatively effective comics are in the hands of a skilled memoirist.Pop Matters
King of King Court is engrossing. Travis Dandro has the rare ability to look back at his childhood with eyes wide open—not only the hardships, but just as crucially, the moments of humor and goodness. The book almost seems to be written and drawn by a precocious little kid with the supernatural ability to see and hear everything. Visceral, idiosyncratic, funny, terrifying. It's really remarkable.Nick Drnaso, cartoonist of Sabrina
Inventive... A visually engaging and human story of early trauma and how art and the imagination persist through the toughest of times.Chris Kretz, Library Journal
The straightforward narrative and deceptively simple drawings lend to Travis Dandro's memoir great tension and superb emotional power. King of King Court brims with equal parts existential terror and profound, complex love.Lauren Groff, author of Florida
Beautifully constructed story that greets tragedy and pain head on and offers a way out. We can create our own stories. We don't have to remain in the stories of others. Well done, Travis Dandro!Deborah Ellis, author of Looking for X and The Breadwinner
Travis Dandro has elevated the graphic memoir form. He tells the story of his childhood in Central Massachusetts with an abusive, drug-addicted father, and a mother unable to extract herself and her three sons from him. Dandro captures the complexity of the abusive scene — the troubling dissonance that someone can make you laugh and feel loved, and also be a source of terror and pain, a waking manifestation of nightmare... Our fortune that Dandro could create this from the pain.Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe
[King of King Court is] a trip down a bumpy memory lane, one that winds through Travis Dandro’s life from age 6 to 16 and contemplates the ways in which love, anger and loneliness collide. Dandro’s art is expressive, his storylines often impressionistic. Kinetic dream sequences feel whimsical yet enlightening, dark shadows reveal even as they conceal, and scenes of kids making mischief are unquestionably cute.Linda M Castellitto, BookPage
Viewed through the innocent eyes of childhood and those of a world-weary young adult, this is a tough but illuminating read.Booklist
Travis Dandro’s gripping comic memoir recounts a childhood shaped by addiction and abuse... As Dandro grows to adulthood, he comes to a greater understanding of the roots of his family’s damaging and toxic behaviors, and the book becomes not just an exploration of abuse but a nuanced and sensitive look at a troubled familyRoss Johnson, Barnes & Noble Blog