Elk's Run

Along with 28 Days Later: the Aftermath, I also just finished reading Elk's Run, a graphic novel written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and featuring art by Noel Tuazon and Scott A. Keating.

The good folks of Elk's Run had good intentions when they decided to make their West Virginia mining town into an isolated utopia. But as with all things, time takes its toll and their perfect world is collapsing.

The story is primarily told from the perspective of the town's children, namely main character John Kohler. John is the son of Elk's Run survivalist, patriotic, and overzealous leader. And after his father commits a rather heinous act, John and his friends are forced to rethink if their isolated utopia is really so utopian. There are a few Stand by Me moments to tie the kids' lives together but the story's main commentary resides in demonstrating how far the characters go, parents and kids alike, to protect what they believe is right.

The writing is pretty good but it stands better as an entire graphic novel. Initially, Elk's Run was a self-published eight-issue series that was picked up by now-defunct publisher Speakeasy. After Speakeasy folded, Random House’s Villard imprint came to the rescue and collected the story, along with 100 additional pages, as a graphic novel. As eight individual issues, I don't think the story would have as much resonance. But when you can read it in one sitting, in one collection, the story carries a bit more weight. Aside from that, my only comment on the writing would be that Fialkov throws in too much swearing at times, especially when the kids are talking to each other, and it occassionally distracts from the actual dialogue.

As for the art, at times it's a bit too loose for my tastes but it gets the job accomplished. If anything, the coloring is what really brings the mood of the story and the ink brush-heavy art style together.

Overall, it's recommend it. Considering the cape-centric market we're living in, it's nice to see a well told drama/suspense/thriller without a superhero in sight.


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