GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: The Architect
Imaginative literature thrives on the “what if?” story. What if aliens invaded Earth? What if vampires were real? What if a superpowered infant was rocketed to Earth from a doomed planet?
Or, in this case: what if Frank Lloyd Wright were an insane evil druid whose wrath extended years after his death?
OK, the architect in this graphic novel isn’t precisely Wright. He’s a prickly, arrogant, obnoxious know-it-all (so far, that doesn’t just describe Wright, but all architects) building his dream home (with some Fallingwater-esque elements) in 1969 Wisconsin. He’s running low on money, but that never stops arrogant, visionary architects in imaginative fiction – he just runs off to do some lectures to raise some money. Which leaves his young, city-jaded, hot-to-trot wife alone, and bored, in the company of the young, dashing, level-headed construction foreman. Do I need to draw you a diagram?
I draw a veil over what happens next, except to say that the bulk of this graphic novel (which has seventy pages of story, for those counting at home) takes place in the present day, among a group of young people cleaning up and restoring the aforementioned dream home.
Let me repeat that: a group of young, attractive people are in a secluded location, where something horrible happened a generation before. If that reminds you of a horror movie, give yourself a cigar. Unfortunately, I hate that kind of horror movie.
The art is also in a style I haven’t really warmed up to – I think it’s the colors rather than the linework, but the whole package looks too much like Fathom or similar cheesecake comics for me to really relax and enjoy it.
So I had to struggle to keep going with this book, though no fault of Baron’s or Tong’s – they were just telling a story in an idiom I’m not particularly fond of. But Baron brings Roark Dexter Smith – that’s the evil architect – back in a truly novel and creepy way, makes him a real threat, and doesn’t turn the plot into a simple “let’s kill them one at a time” exercise. (On the other hand, there’s only five of the young people, and you know not all of them survive, so…)
And Tong has a quite impressive two-page spread near the end, so I can’t stay mad at him, either.
This isn’t the kind of comic I’d usually read or enjoy, but it’s a decent story told with energy and excitement, and you could do a lot worse with your ten bucks. If you actually like horror, or stories about evil architects, then I think you need to run right out and get this book.
Mike Baron and Andie Tong
Big Head Press, 2007, $9.95