Share This

Dear Thursday: ELK’S RUN by Joshua Hale Fialkov [Book 32 of 2010]

It occurs to me that I haven’t done a graphic novel in awhile, so here are my thoughts on ELK’S RUN by Joshua Hale Fialkov.

Why I Decided To Read It: During my first and so far, only San Diego Comic-Con, I met Fialkov (who had just launched this series) through friend of FaN, Clark Perry. The comic’s original distributor, though committed wasn’t great about regular release dates for new issues, so eventually I abandoned the series, only to find out just this year that Fialkov found a new distributor and released it as a graphic novel. Nice!

What It’s About: It’s technically about a teenager, living in a mysterious town, of which his Vietnam war-vet, taciturn, and bat-ish-crazy father is a founding member. The people in this town don’t have to work if they don’t wish to. But they’re not allowed to leave, and when one of the town members kills a child while trying to sneak out, all heck breaks loose.

What Makes It Different: If you think your father was toxic, this guy will make him look like Ward Cleaver.

What I Loved: The story was both suspenseful and thought-provoking. Unlike most other graphic novels, every act of violence resonated. In many ways, this comic is less cartoony than many books and movies that center around violence.

What I Didn’t Like: Like LOST, quite a few questions got left unanswered. And I don’t think the author is planning a sequel to give us those answers. Sad face.

Writing Lessons Learned:

What If Your Father/Husband/Neighbor Was…: In any other book, the father character would have been either the main character or the main villain.  In ELK’S RUN, however, we get the story from the POV of not only the father, but also his son, wife and neighbors, making for a more complete portrait.

Unusual Problem as Motivation: In this town, there are way more boys than girls. One wonders if many of the town’s problems would have been avoided if they had been able to fix this one unusual problem. As it is, it gives the main character good motivation to want to leave.

Society as Conflict: I love books in which characters try to set up an ideal society, only to have the people within it fight back. This is a great source of conflict, and a trope, which, in my opinion, will never get old. But in ELK’S RUN is works at an even smaller and more brilliant level, b/c not only does the father want a Utopian society, he also wants a Utopian family – a great reminder to all of us, that your nuclear family is what it is, as opposed to exactly what you want it to be.

Click on the book cover to buy!