Friday, August 4, 2017

Taproot - Keezy Young



Preorder is avail, release on September 27 2017.

I loved (loooooooooooved) this graphic novel. I hated (despised?) the sub title. Let's get that out of the way so I can be super excited. See section "UGH!" later in the review for a medium sized rant.

Hamal makes plants grow as a caretaker in a flower nursery. He nurtures the plants and sometimes sings to them. They grow despite the conditions. People trust him to help.

Hamal also cares for the dead. He can see ghosts, speak to ghosts, and befriends them. They do not frighten him, he has spoken to them most of his life, even before he knew what they were.

When Hamal meets Taye "Blue" Alvarado, his world axis flips. Blue is dead, nailed by a truck. While his corporeal life ended, Blue found himself suck and he never left the earth. Meeting Hamal struck down his loneliness.

Out of concern for him, Blue is perpetually attempting to talk Hamal into dating beautiful women, being happy, finding love. Hamal however, has already found love. Blue. He loves Blue, utterly and completely.

On a disturbing tangent and with increased frequency, Blue has been stepping out of reality, finding himself walking in an ethereal forest of death. The other ghosts Hamal cares for also spend time in the forest, unaware of the cause for their displacement. When a reaper locates Blue in the forest, he advises that Hamal is unknowingly using Necromancy and killing his world. If he doesn't stop, those things he loves may be destroyed and the forest, may consume Blue.

Hamal and Blue need to set the world in balance before it ends.


Holy.. This comic broke my heart. To be spoiler free, I cannot describe how, but it has been a long time since a single page of a comic gutted me and brought me to tears. The characters are so damn genuine, it just hurts.

The artwork in this comic is also something unique. Looking at Keezy Young's website, it is clear that this style is nothing new for the author. There are several web comics and long term projects which share it. I didn't know that I cared for the artistic style, feeling unfinished / hurried. Soon after starting, I embraced it at a genetic level. I came full circle and found myself nostalgically remembering early Miyazaki work and the even more nostalgic 'Enchanted Journey' from 1984 (city chipmunks moving to a forest).

The Reaper was a real treat. In opposition to the personalities of Hamal and Blue, I was really astounded by the conciseness and Reaper character. Visually and in text, it acted as a wonderful offset...

Simplistic, but deep. This is a highly suggested work to seek out on publication. I will also be digging into the other work Keezy has created.


UGH!
I have a complaint... The subtitle....."A Story about a Gardner and a Ghost".. Fuck that. Why even write that.. It pigeon holes this entire work as being some silly undertaking before anyone even hears the premise. The author's website adds insult to injury by describing "Taproot is about a gardener who can see ghosts, and the ghost who falls in love with him." Both of these diminish the work, clipping key tendons right before a big race.

This is a fragile balance between life and death. It is about Hamal and his link to the ecosystem of his world and his ability to both take and provide. One could easily infer that the term Taproot is referencing Hamal as a central life support for everything that depends on him.

It just irks me, and begins the novel like a gimmick rather than the beautiful thing it really is.

--

Disclosure: This Graphic Novel was provided for review purposes by the Publisher. They made no claim that lack of review would result in an unmarked package arriving filled with nervous Gila Monsters. Nor did they thinly veil statements about where a secret stash of anti-venom was located. All of that was in my head, which simply means they need to step up their game!


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