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book review

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.

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