05 Aug / Better Place by Duane Murray, illustrated by Shawn Daley [in Booklist]
Duane Murray, an actor, writer, and producer in film, makes his on-the-page graphic debut, nimbly realized by Canadian artist Shawn Daley. In a rallying example of the axiom “It takes a village,” a half-dozen graphic greats – including Jeff Lemire and Nate Powell – contribute additional art, namely covers of fictional Red Rocket and Kid Cosmo comic books interspersed throughout.
Eight-year-old Dylan and his grandfather are Kid Cosmo and Red Rocket; they’re superheroes to each other, creating magical adventures. Dylan has recently moved, school doesn’t start for another couple weeks, and his single mother works constantly, but Grandad is always right by his side. When the dynamic duo lands in trouble yet again (shopping cart, parked car, security), plans accelerate to move Grandad to an assisted-living facility – but along the way, tragedy strikes. Grandad’s gone to a better place, and Dylan’s desperate to find him.
Daley’s action-packed, mostly black-and-white panels burst with technicolor enhancements whenever the superhero comics appear, as if to prove the power of Dylan and Grandad’s transformative imaginations. Experienced Daley is undoubtedly the stronger creative link here, ingeniously enabling and elevating Murray’s heartfelt debut.