Home After Dark by David Small (Graphic Novel Mini Review)

Striking shadows evoke the darks and lights of powerful emotions in this coming-of-age graphic novel. Home After Dark is the story of 13-year-old Russell Pruitt’s move to California after the break up of his parents’ marriage.

After a brief stop in Los Angeles, they relocate to the fictional town of Marshfield, which is located, I assume, in the vicinity of the Sonoma County coast. They move into an extra room in the house of a Chinese immigrant family. Jen and her husband Wien (who speaks no English) help the family out, particularly Russell. He tries making friends and eventually, when summer ends, he needs to start school.

The themes of bullying, masculinity, trust, and sexuality all have a place in his novel. It is heartbreaking, yet Russell searches for some redemption from his, at times, desperate situation. Many pages are without dialogue or his written inner voice. These panels show scenes of the ocean, Russell riding his bike, or just sitting and thinking. He is a lost young man and this work is a penetrating contemplation into the lives of many in this same time and circumstances in life.


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