17 Dec / Twelve Percent Dread by Emily McGovern [in Booklist]
Irish cartoonist Emily McGovern’s sophomore graphic novel slyly examines screen-dependent twentysomethings stumbling through London life. At 25, Katie still lacks steady employment (and income). She rents a small room with gender-fluid, not-working artist Nas in has-been actor Jeremy’s townhouse. Katie and Nas are ex-best friends who stay together to (hopefully) help Nas in securing their elusive residency visa.
Meanwhile, friend Emma shares a mortgage with her fiancé and has a high-power tech job that includes mentoring enigmatic founder Michelle’s latest protegee. Serendipitously, Katie’s latest temp assignment sends her into Michelle’s palatial home to tutor her precocious, neglected 10-year-old daughter.
Multilayered collisions are going to be inevitable.
McGovern creates hand-drawn panels in various sizes and shapes, every page a unique layout of striking line drawings in a blue and white palette. Her characters are distinctly simplified – Katie is mostly a bad haircut and dots for eyes; Nas all sharp chin and sprouting crew cut; Emma flowing locks; and Michelle a pointed nose – and yet they prove remarkably expressive. Through shrewd observations exposing capitalism, political corruption, and social media infiltration, McGovern poignantly lays bare an underlying longing for lasting connections.