These stories, ranging in length from one page to sixty, represent some of the best and strangest of Hester's non-superhero comics work. Genuinely funny pieces about romance, art, and language exist alongside disturbing entries on nightmare and punishment. With the occasional help of other artists, Hester demonstrates his considerable skill with tight prose and moody illustration. It is a book whose best use in a teen collection will be to help budding artists expand their understanding of comics. The main strengths are its breathtaking diversity and cunning efficiency, the former making the book almost impossible to describe and the latter resulting in an indispensable demonstration of self-discipline. Much of the artwork is moody to the point of indecipherability, requiring a reader who can earn a story's meaning, but even in these selections there is careful word choice, attention to panel design, and mature pacing. In the last and by far longest story, a moving tale called Boneshaker, Hester uses large panels and great swaths of white to imply the childlike wonder of a character approaching death. Here Hester shows how to take the lessons about pacing and mood learned in the rest of the book and apply them to a slow, lumbering tale with a clear but unpredictable narrative. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA G (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults; Graphic Novel Format). 2006, Image Comics, 176p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
Joe Sutliff Sanders