Created by Jeremy Sorese
A graphic novel in 420 pages
Published by NoBrow Press www.nobrow.net
“After years of technological advancement, the relationships between humans and robots is changing. Reduced energy stores mean that humans can no longer rely on the support of their robotic counterparts. In the midst of this turmoil, one woman faces her own breakdown at the hands of a manipulative friend”
The Story: Avery is a little lost, her life and her emotions are adrift in a world that is at once confusing and also humdrum and boring. Technology is everywhere but often doesn’t work and breaks down just when you need it. A war wages elsewhere on the horizon and her job on a cruise liner that on a daily programme sails round with rich patrons who are served food and drink by her and her group of strange colleagues. She isn’t even that good at being a waitress.
Whilst she seems in a rut over most of her life’ but especially a recently failed relationship with a sailor she surrounds herself with friends and stumbles about in this post internet world…
The Review: Part of the joy for me in this book is that it is incredibly difficult to sum up in a short paragraph. It is science fiction – but set in an almost historically nostalgic setting. The tall cruise ships that tour the sea look straight out of a 1920s Hollywood movie poster. Yet it also is set in a future world full of fantastical buildings, robots and headsets. Some of the scenes on the ship could almost be cut out of a movie like The Marx Brothers Duck Soup, for example.
The visualisation of this world is a swirl of life, diverse and cute, cold and technological, rainy and quiet – all in one page often. Jeremy Sorese has a style that is at once reminiscent of an early Disney cartoon (we get a little Cinderella moment in the ballroom, for example) with the art of someone like Seth or Craig Thompson, mingling with little tinges of manga in some dramatic facial expressions. As you turn from pages of conversation to large post industrial/technological vistas on the horizon, its pleasingly unusual style grabs you with its brushy linework and often cutely skewed drawings.
Needless to say, I absolutely loved this strangely beautiful change of pace in my comics reading day.
Curveball entertains and enthrals, pushing out ideas over and over. Whilst reading it for the first time, I wasn’t sure about the genders of the characters (often, the term ‘Mx’ is often used rather than Mr, Mrs, Ms etc). But I decided that this was something you should not care about. The creator isn’t worried so why should you be? A book that has at its centre a story of relationships in such a future setting shouldn’t be hung up on this question. There are now and in the future no rights and wrongs as to who you fall in love with. Man, Woman or, indeed, Robot.
TIf Curveball has a villain beyond the debauchery of its horrifically illuminated setting it is Christophe, a sailor and a player of relationships in the future. The breaker of hearts. The guy who hits on your best friend and then, at a moment’s notice, denies having done so. He isn’t revealed fully until around the halfway point of the 400 and something pages in this tale. When he is, I almost whooped with joy that he has a Charlie Brown head! Yes! Is this what poor old Charlie Brown would have grown up to become? A womanizer who finally gets a dose of reality and is left standing sullen in the rain? Just spot on.
he main character, Avery, is a mixed up person in a mixed up world, surrounded by people who seem deeply real and flawed. Jaqueline – her best friend and flatmate – is by far my favourite. It almost becomes her story, she talks non-stop, but tries to do the best for her friend. In fact all of the characters are quirky and wear their hearts on their sleeves. Even the robots are seen at points to have feelings and are full of character and snark.
It is often the co-star characters who provide the lovely little narrative asides. They drag you off to the left for a few pages at a time and sit you down and tell you stories of their days events. This provides reality to the story, real life events that stray whimsically into the main through line that is Avery’s life.
Curveball is a comic that is all about communication and character. The communication comes through some excellently executed talking head moments, futuristically imagined Google Glass style headsets and also through letters that are written in this post paper world. The swirling orange die glow that infects the black and white reality of the art on the page shows that technology is an interloper and may or may not be about forever. The power outages build throughout the book and we get a disaster level event towards the end that proves that sometimes the old things are the ones that last.
I’ve gone on enough. I won’t pretend that this reviewer in his mid forties understands everything that is going on in this graphic novel. But I was absolutely swept along by the characters and settings. NoBrow have not set a foot wrong again. I loved this and shall be looking avidly for the next release.
Jeremy Sorese was born in Berlin, raised in Virginia and educated in Georgie at the Savannah College of Art and Design, before becoming a resident of La Maison des Auteurs in Angouleme, France. He is the creator and current writer of the Steven Universe comic series, published monthly by BOOM Studios. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
• You can grab a copy of this book at all good booksellers and comic shops. Or visit the NoBrow site at www.nobrow.net
• If you’re in the US, Jeremy will be signing at Comic Arts Brooklyn, the annual festival of comics and cartoon art, presented by Desert Island. The event takes place on 7th November 2015 and is free and open to the public. More info: http://comicartsbrooklyn.tumblr.com or follow the Festival on Twitter @ComicArtsBklyn
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.