Dealing with death is challenging. Aside from the pain we internalize from losing someone we know or love, there are several other challenges that arise. The constant asking of "are you ok?" Unsolicited thoughts or commentary of how to handle the pain. Stories which come from folks with the best of intentions which may re-traumatize the person hurting the most. Finally, constant offers of help or assistance, which may be founded in the best of intentions, while others may have ulterior motives.
All of these and more are some of the challenges Myers faces in The Down River People.
The Down River People (Archaia/Boom! Studios)
Myers has a strained relationship with his mother, because she left Myers and his father in the cold, with no reason or goodbye. Yet, she shows up the day after the wake, with an offer to help run the bar...AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT HE HAS A HALF SISTER!
Myers eventually gives in to his mother's offer to help, and travels to meet her in her new home, a fishing retreat WHICH IS A FULL ON RELIGIOUS CULT! Everything from their first meeting at the retreat makes you hope that everything in Myers life is going to improve. But after a nice evening at the bar, Myers discovers that there may be more under the surface of what's happening at the church.....
I really enjoyed this graphic novel. Normally, I can't read something that long in a single sitting. However, the story and the art kept me leaning in and begging for more. It also makes me want to buy the duo's previous work Long Walk to Valhalla.
Witnessing how Myers handled everything going on around him, while still embracing the wisdom of his father was quite beautiful. The way Fox illustrated some of the most intense moments of self discovery via the river was very powerful, and they are images which are burnt into my memory.
The final item of note is how deeply personal this story was to Smith. His one page letter at the conclusion of the story brought me to tears. You can really feel how influential his father was on him, and made me aspire to have the same sort of impact on my children, my students, and the people around me.
Also, I had no idea Adam is from KC, which fills me with hope that I can meet him when cons become a thing again, because when I pick my copy up, I'd love to get it signed!
This story will be easy to fall in love with, and I highly recommend picking it up at your LCS or ordering it, its a decision you won't regret!
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...