by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil; Dark Horse Books
Some of my favourite stories in non-comics media, novels and movies and television, are really well made slice-of-life stories. While I love giant Earth-shattering tales of murder in a far and weird future, sometimes a quirky, character driven story with a relatable setting is what I want from my media. Bad Houses is exactly that kind of story. The graphic novel tells the story of Anna and Lewis, teenagers from the economically troubled, small town of Failin, Oregon and what happens after they cross paths at an estate sale. It's a story of teenage hopes and tribulations, small town history, and really nuanced character study. Bad Houses is also a comic that taps into the emotional weight of possessions in a way that seems to intersect with a bunch of zeitgeisty reality shows: antiquing, storage lockers, houses hunting, and horders all kind of appear. And I found it really interesting how this skeleton of common themes and events shared with such dubious television can be used so effectively in Bad Houses to tell engaging and human stories. Seriously, this comic is thematically crafted in a really interesting way. Most of all, though, Bad Houses is just a great, relatable story that manages to be dramatic, charming, and quirky in a way that I think should appeal to a lot of people: comic stalwarts, but also regular folks who are not genre fiction inclined. My spouse doesn't really like comics, but Bad Houses might just be the perfect comic for her.
Word count: 250