Saturday, February 27, 2010


by Gilbert Hernandez

I've never read the Hernandez Brother's Love and Rockets series. I've made the odd attempt to check out their work, but it never really interested me that much. This graphic novel seemed a little more like my type of thing, and I'm glad I checked it out.

Sloth is set in a small town somewhere in the Southern US with an abundance of lemon orchards nearby. Miguel Serra is a teenager who has spent a year in a coma, which it is generally believed, he induced and ended on his own. Since recovering, Miguel has been moving at a much slower pace than before, but it otherwise perfectly healthy.

He spends his time trying to integrate himself back into his world. He gets back with his girlfriend Lita, and hangs out again with his friend Romeo. The three are in a band together, and they quickly return to their usual interests like rehearsing, and exploring the mysterious lemon orchards, which are said to be the final resting places for a few murder victims, perhaps including Miguel's mother, who has been missing for years.

Lita has a strong interest in urban myths, specifically ones related to the orchards, and to the Goat Man, a strange creature that has been said to switch bodies with his victims. Hernandez starts the book as a pretty standard post-coma teen angst story (think Douglas Coupland's 'Girlfriend in a Coma'), and then, like that novel, switches things up completely half way through the book.

It's difficult to discuss the remainder of the comic without ruining the reversals that Hernandez pulls off, except to say that the book becomes more interesting for the dissonance that he induces.

Sloth is an interesting study of small-town youth. Hernandez's characters are fully aware of how limited their surroundings are, and feel despair because of it. The coma becomes a form of escape that requires little effort, and is quite tantalizing for that reason. This is an interesting book.

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