Booklist Online: Praise for Leaving Richard's Valley

“Booklist Review” / Booklist Online / Gordon Flagg / July 1, 2019

Richard’s Valley is a bucolic setting where off-kilter animals dwell alongside affectless humans under the benevolent but resolute hand of its eponymous leader. But when Ellie the Squirrel, Neville the Dog, and Omar the Spider defy Richard’s edicts to save the life of Lyle the Raccoon, they’re expelled from the valley, which turns out to be just a corner of a Toronto city park. Exiled to the city, the motley group is forced to live in an unfamiliar and unforgiving world, turning to newly found if arbitrary skills—supermodeling, architecture, noise-rock—to survive. At the same time, they must tackle urban challenges ranging from traffic to gentrification as well as enduring strains on their longtime friendships. Leaving Richard’s Valley originally appeared as a webcomic, and the discipline of producing daily installments has focused DeForge’s storytelling. While his drawings remain bizarrely idiosyncratic—the animals are barely recognizable as such, with Lyle the Raccoon resembling a Valentine’s heart with legs—they’ve gained graphic clarity, and his narrative is more linear and coherent than usual. Within DeForge’s wildly fanciful tale lie honest insights about the importance of community and the struggle to find a place in society, delivered in a richly imaginative and totally singular mode.

— Gordon Flagg

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