Any author would agree that a book tour has the potential for horror. It could be wonderful, of course — but what in human life is ever purely wonderful? There’s going to be something that goes bad. And there’s always the chance it could all go bad.
Which brings us to Andi Watson’s graphic novel The Book Tour , in which things go wrong, first very quietly and subtly then more and more obviously, for journeyman author G.H. Fretwell as he sets off on a tour for his new novel Without K  of what seem to be minor cities in some unnamed European country. It could be today, it could be the late 19th century. Fretwell takes steam trains, he stays in hotels – shabbier and shabbier, dodgier and dodgier as the tour goes on. And the tour does go on – that’s one of the things that goes wrong, from Fretwell’s point of view.
He sets off with high hopes, a nice suit, and a suitcase full of books. He comes to the first stop on his tour, a cozy and quaint bookshop, sets up at a table in a corner with a stack of books and a good pen, and waits for readers.
It’s only the first of many bad experiences when he doesn’t sell a single book that day, or interact with a single person who cares about his work. The hotel that night is good, but things don’t go as well as he hopes. This is as good as its going to get for Fretwell.
There are shocking stories in the newspaper, which Fretwell does not read: he focuses only on the literary pages. There are dangers and surprises and troubles which he barely notices, even as they get closer and closer to him.
He meets with an editor: not his editor, who is unavoidably detained somewhere else. He is invited to a literary event verbally, but is unable to enter without a printed invitation. He finds the shops and hotels getting less appealing, and his itinerary getting longer and more onerous.
And then it gets much worse.
This is a different kind of book for Andi Watson: he’s spent most of the past decade and a half making fun, light adventure stories for younger readers, and close to a decade before that making resonant stories for adults that were not necessarily romances but centered on personal and family relationships. This is a more literary book, a book of quiet depths, where he implies much more than he shows, and shows vastly more than he tells.
The art is quicker-looking as well, with rough panel borders and lines that have a feeling of speed. Watson’s mid-century character designs – I always see a lot of UPA in his people’s faces – are precise and expressive while still being deeply caricatured, always in a style that fits the look of the book. The panels are tight, mostly in a grid – he does open up, here and there, but the overall feeling is tightness, closeness, with a lot of vertical lines for looming buildings and rain and grim functionaries and towering stacks of books and other ominous things.
The Book Tour can read quickly, but there’s a lot that happens in the gutters between panels and a lot that is implied by what people mention to Fretwell. So don’t read it quickly: this is a book to linger over, to think about, to enjoy the drawings and think about what may really be happening while poor Fretwell is distracted with his ever-worsening book tour.
 In-universe, this is a reference to Fretwell’s wife’s name, Rebecca (without a ‘k’). Doylistically, it could also be a subtle Kafka reference.