With King of King Court out this week from Drawn & Quarterly, 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. Dandro’s youth isn’t all crisis and needles and punched faces; there are ants to observe, laughs to be had with pals, and love to be shared with other family members. Amid the chaos and danger, there’s calm to be found. Dandro’s personification of himself is blank-eyed, messy-haired, Calvin-esque; and the illustrations shift between evocative abstraction, classic cartoon, and rich, realistic detail. A threatening mood — a swelling nest of wasps, zombies, storms, loaded guns, empty pill bottles — permeates the book. Our fortune that Dandro could create this from the pain.