Set in the peaceful small town of Dockwood, Jon McNaught’s latest graphic novel features two stories: the first, of a kitchen porter in an old folks’ home, the second, of a young boy on his newspaper round after school.
The pages are set out like Chris Ware’s books with lots of small panels but the drawing style has more in common with Seth, who shares a fascination with small town life. McNaught has also chosen to colour his book with a muted colour palette like Seth.
The book is mostly silent with McNaught using the bare minimum of language, usually simple mundane pleasantries, or the lyrics of songs from the radio playing in the background. The focus of the book is on the everyday moments that we take for granted – a leaf falling from a tree, a flock of birds flying in formation through the sky, a squirrel foraging for food – all of which takes place around us as we live lives as banal as those moments.
Both stories, while relatively short (this is a 64 page book), are nonetheless compelling as McNaught draws the stories so fluidly that it feels like you’re watching animation more than reading a comic, the pacing is that good. The kitchen porter’s story is strangely entrancing as he serves breakfast and lunch to the old folk before heading home – it shouldn’t be this interesting but McNaught manages to make it so.
Dockwood is the comics equivalent of poetry, featuring deceptively ordinary stories containing moments of beauty and thoughtfulness. If you enjoy the work of Chris Ware and Seth, or indie comics in general, then Jon McNaught’s books are definitely for you. Nobrow Press continue to publish excellent work as McNaught continues to develop into a very interesting and highly original comics creator.
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