Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best Wishes

Written by Mike Richardson
Art by Paul Chadwick

I consider Paul Chadwick to be one of the best straight-up comics artists in the business, so of course I wanted to read Best Wishes, his collaboration with Dark Horse president Mike Richardson.

This is a slightly odd magical realist series about work and relationships in New York City.  An old and ornate fountain is moved from Italy to New York's Central Park, but no one is aware of the fact that it might have some magical properties to it.  Cal is a struggling graphic designer who can't seem to break into the industry.  Mary is a struggling young woman who can't shake the feeling that her boyfriend, Josh, a famous quarterback, doesn't really love her.  When Cal and Mary make wishes in the fountain at the same time, their desires get mixed up.

In no time, Mary's random napkin doodle gets chosen as the new symbol of New York City, propelling her to the recognition and job that Cal wanted for himself.  When Cal meets Josh in an elevator while on his way to a job interview with Mary, Josh is not sure how to deal with the feelings that he starts to develop for the young man.  In no time, these three characters find themselves in a weird triangle of envy and desire.

I like the way that this book portrays the difficulty of simply living in New York City, as the characters struggle to make ends meet, and even acts of generosity don't extend further than the closest Ikea.  These characters, and the people that surround them, are very well-realized, and the implausible aspects of this story don't get in the way of enjoying their travails.

Of course, this book is so capably drawn that I'm sure it inspired the kind of envy that Cal shows throughout the book.  Chadwick is a treasure - he makes emotionally complex scenes clear and easy to understand.  I'm glad that Richardson is able to make sure that stories like this get told.  This was a quiet book that didn't make much of a splash, but is really worth taking a look at.