Comics Alternative, Episode 194: Reviews of The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, Bird in a Cage, and Hellbound Lifestyle

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Communal Voices


This week The Comics Alternative‘s blog editor, Paul Lai, joins Derek to discuss three recent titles. They begin with Bryan Doerries’s The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan (Pantheon). Illustrated by a variety of artists — Jess Ruliffson, Joëlle Jones, Justine Mara Andersen, Dylan Macon’s, and Nick Bertozzi — the book brings Homer’s classic into contemporary contexts. On the eve of their return home from Afghanistan, Marine Corps sergeant Jack Brennan shares with his men the epic tale by applying it to their own lives as soldiers. hellbound-sampleWithin this frame narrative, Doerries recounts Odysseus’s various attempt to return home, each one illustrated by one of the book’s diverse artists.

Next, the Two Guys turn to a sobering narrative, Rebecca Roher’s Bird in a Cage (Conundrum Press). This is an account of Roher’s grandmother’s dementia and resulting institutionalization, but even more so, it’s the artist’s memoir of her relationship with Grandma Wylie, as she is called, and the family that nurtured her. This is a moving narrative, intimately drawn, that underscores the power of community and memory when confronting adversity.

After that, Paul and Derek wrap up with a more lighthearted comic, Kaeleigh Forsyth and Alabaster Pizzo’s Hellbound Lifestyle (Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics). This is a humorous look at our contemporary obsession with smartphones and our need for self-validation through social media. The story takes place over a year’s worth of smartphone usage, and many of the book’s scenarios are laugh-out-loud funny. Some of the guys’ favorites include “A Day in the Life of Hemingway’s Wife(s),” “Workshopping My Stand Up Routine,” and the “Sunnie Luvies Test.” In this episode of the podcast, you can expect a wide range of emotional responses.