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Anti-Gone

By Connor Willumsen, Koyama Press, 120 pages, $18

While wunderkind Connor Willumsen is known for his innovative short stories, they remain uncollected for now. The Canadian cartoonist's debut, instead, is a graphic novel every bit as invigorating, at least in brief bursts. Sensitive body-builder Spyda and studious millennial Lynxa inhabit a near-future world of endless leisure and anomie, where they sail through a submerged city before landing at the mall to shop, do designer drugs and watch a blustery blockbuster. At this length, Anti-Gone's sci-fi stoner shtick can wear a bit thin – the characters, especially, are exasperating – but the story really just provides a constant through-line for Willumsen's relentless experiments with everything from pacing and framing to figure-drawing and dialogue. In the artist's analytical hands, every innocuous gesture and vapid conversation offers fascinating glimpses of our world seen anew. Using disorienting close-ups, floating in the white space of the page, Willumsen zeroes in on moments that typically go unremarked – dropping a coffee cup in the trash or snapping a hairband around a ponytail. Such bizarrely piercing bouts of attention are trippy and eye-opening, a match for the feeling our antiheroes seek with their pills and powders.

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Sookocheff says she doesn't plan to switch to digital illustration because she would miss the "accidents that happen when you're mucking around with paint" Globe and Mail Update
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