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April 13, 2014 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Incomplete Works (Reivew)

INCOMPLETE WORKS by Dylan Horrocks
5/5 stars

The lucky reader will occasionally have a moment in a book where they put the story on hold and stare blankly at the pages, marvelling at how well-crafted the thing is, a string of reverent saliva creeping from the corner of their mouth. Or, the smart reader could bypass luck and read Incomplete Works published by Victoria University Press, a collection so full of stunned pauses that the reader becomes near catatonic.

This beautiful collection of comics draws from Horrocks’ 30ish years of writing, starting with the unexpectedly dark ‘Little Death’, which tells the story of a chance meeting in a bar, set to the Verlaines. The collection then moves through scratchy zines, the angularly surreal, and ending somewhere in the not-too-distant future, with an illustrated diary entry in part documenting the writing of an upcoming graphic novel. Incomplete Works is not only a great introduction to Horrocks’s writing – past, present, and future – but, thanks to the inclusion of a couple of pieces on the history of the form here, to New Zealand comics as a whole.

While the subject matter is diverse, the drawing style is even more varied. His early work jumps erratically yet effortlessly – in one panel there may be a studied sketchiness, the next a meticulous woodwork-like rendering, while others take on an skeletal expressionism or occasionally appear to have been drawn by a somewhat debauched Quentin Blake.

Even in the face of all this variety, there is always something weirdly New Zealandy about it. And true to that weirdly New Zealand cultural cringe, I wouldn’t normally mean that in a nice way. Horrocks manages to make it work, though, whether in the music drifting through the background of some strips, or the netball dress sported by the Spirit of Joy as she rises above rooftops in a panel which is, frankly, nothing short of glorious.


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