EXIT WOUNDS and SPENT in The Vancouver Courier

“Readable Wounds details life in Tel Aviv; Graphic novel shows what's possible with comics” / Vancouver Courier / Shawn Conner / July 18, 2007

Like Guy Delisle's Pyongyang, Rutu Modan's Exit Wounds is one of those graphic novels defenders of the form will immediately press upon friends, as if to say, "Look at what's possible in comics!"

In modern-day Tel Aviv, a young man named Koby Franco receives an urgent call from a female soldier named Numi. Learning his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins Numi in searching for clues. Their twisty, unpredictable quest reveals as much about the two of them, and life in modern-day Israel, as it does about the missing dad.

Drawn in a clean-line, Tintin-type of style, Exit Wounds is the second graphic novel by Tel Aviv illustrator Modan, who has worked as a co-editor
of the Israeli version (who knew?) of Mad magazine. It's immensely readable, beautifully coloured, and richly detailed, but Modan's real triumph is her treatment of the characters. Complicated and moody, Numi and Koby are complete human beings, and Modan never loses sight of their likability, even when they're being complete jerks to each other.

--Shawn Conner

SPENT

By Joe Matt

Drawn & Quarterly

The back cover cartoon says it all. In a store, two fashionable young women spy a table full of hardbacks. Seeing the title Spent one of them says, "it's probably about a shopaholic who can't stop spending every last dime on clothes!" They begin flipping through a copy--only to discover it's actually a graphic novel illustrating the non-adventures of a chronic masturbator addicted to porn. "Eww! Gross!" says the brunette. "Joe Matt, wherever you are--you're the world's biggest, ugliest loser."
"Haha!" says her friend, a feathered blonde. "Let's go look at shoes!" Cut to a lonely, tearful Matt, sitting nearby, alone at his "meet the author" table.

Matt has made a name for himself in the alternative comic universe for his unflinchingly autobiographical title Peepshow, four issues of which are collected here. How much of the story is true and how much exaggerated for effect is difficult to tell, but the American expat (originally from Illinois, now in L.A., Matt was living in Toronto when the action in Peepshow/Spent takes place) sure likes to wallow in unsavory details.

He shares his pathological cheapness (he saves money on rent by living in a house with a shared bathroom), his questionable habits (he urinates in a jar to avoid said bathroom), and his hobbies (dubbing favourite scenes from porn tapes to make his own)--then whines about not having a girlfriend.

In the dedication, Matt acknowledges his debt to Robert Crumb, the original warts 'n' all comics memoirist, and Spent is certainly in the Crumb tradition of letting all psychic ills hang out. It's also vastly entertaining, beautifully rendered (Matt has a fluid, pleasing style), and is in its own way reassuring. If you think you have problems, just read Spent.

--SC

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