Birdseye BristoeBook |
Considerable surface charms.
Prior to Birdseye Bristoe, Dan Zettwoch was best known for mini-comics that displayed a freewheeling sense of humor to go with colorful, diagram-style visuals. His first full-length graphic novel features more of the same, as the author breaks things down to their component parts, whether that refers to mechanical devices, the small town in which the action takes place, or even the main character of Uncle Birdseye. A tinkerer and ex-veteran with a seen-it-all attitude, Birdseye leases out part of his property to a telecom company seeking to put up a transmission tower, though not just any antenna, but one that will dwarf everything around it. With his visiting great niece and nephew in tow, he patiently waits out the tower's construction by going about his normal routine, which involves raising worms to sell at the local bait shop and building objects out of bungee cords.
While Birdseye Bristoe is less anarchic than some of Zettwoch's earlier comics, it's still very playful, with a non-linear structure that frequently cuts away to quizzes, school reports ostensibly written by Birdseye's nephew, and interviews by his great niece of women either involved with or affected by the project. The artwork, in turn, frequently utilizes cross-sectional drawings of objects ranging from the antenna to Uncle Birdseye's own hand. In theory, the author is peeling back layer after layer of the town to reveal what makes it tick; however, the only thing he does not seem to find is conflict, resulting in a story that is less involving than it could be. Still, Birdseye Bristoe has its share of low-key charms and is a fine introduction to Zettwoch's unique cartooning style.