by Zach Worton
Zach Worton's The Klondike was an excellent collection of stories and vignettes about the famous gold rush that impressed me a great deal. When I saw that he had a new book out at TCAF this year, I couldn't resist grabbing it, although at the time, I did not know that it was the beginning of a series of graphic novels, and not a self-contained story.
The Disappearance of Charley Butters starts with a death metal trio heading into some remote woods with a camera man to film a video. We quickly see that the band doesn't really get along with one another, mostly because the band's leader, Mike, and his contrary nature.
While filming, the band stumbles across a long-abandoned cabin, filled with hundreds of paintings all showing the same image, and a collection of diaries. All of this belongs to Charley Butters, an artist who ran away from the world to this cabin back in the late 50s, and was apparently never heard from again.
As the book progresses, Travis, the main character, can't stop thinking about Butters. He returns to the cabin to pick up the journals, and begins obsessing over the artist, who was clearly mentally ill (he claimed to hear voices).
Travis ends up quitting the band over Mike's behaviour, and he and Stuart, the filmmaker, decide to collaborate on a documentary about Butters's life and disappearance.
This book was really gathering steam when it ended kind of abruptly, with notification that 'The Search For Charley Butters' will be coming along soon. This was a disappointment, as I was enjoying the story, especially the way that Butters's influence was changing Travis, who cuts his hair and begins to behave more like an adult.
Worton does a great job of developing these characters in a short amount of space, and he provides just enough information to make Butters's story intriguing. His art is nice and clear, and he's guaranteed himself a sale whenever the next book comes out. I hope it doesn't take too long...