Ropeburn, by Jeremy Smith. Published 2007 by Fragile Press. Graphica. Fiction.
Ropeburn is one of a bunch of graphic novels and zines I picked up over the past week while I was on vacation in the book mecca of San Francisco. As a publication it falls somewhere in between the two- almost too short to be a real book, but too polished to be a zine, it's short (about 30 pages) and small (quarter size) but manages to pack a punch nonetheless.
It was published in 2007 with a grant from the Xeric Foundation, which seeks to help promising comics artists with the process of self-publishing their work; in practice it also helps recognize outstanding artists and brings attention to their work. This book collects a number of strips and sketches, many of them a four panel size that would fit comfortably in a newspaper, about the adventures of a pizza delivery guy and his friends. The tone is self-deprecating and a little cynical as the main character deals with rude customers, bitter coworkers and the various human tragedies he witnesses in the course of his workday. It sounds depressing but there is something uplifting about watching him soldier on despite it all.
I think this little book is something kind of special. Smith's simple black and white line drawings let the emotions shine through the dialogue and the details. Occasional full-page color one-off cartoons provide interest and contrast as well. It will take you about ten minutes to read through the whole thing but it's still worth checking out.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.