Overview

What Am I Going to Do Without You?

Review

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What Am I Going to Do Without You?

Credits

  • Words: Patt Kelley
  • Art: Patt Kelley
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jul 18, 2012

When a group of kids playing in the woods stumble across the freshly dead body of a giant dinosaur it ensures a media flurry and creates a new national talking point. If that wasn’t a strange enough development then the meteors that subsequently start raining down only ramp up the weirdness factor. But however many curious twists affect the world at large, for most people life in all its glorious normality continues apace. Against a backdrop of dead apatosauruses and fiery death from above, for an elderly couple facing terminal illness, a goth schoolgirl alienated by her peers, and a lonely woman and her dog, the day-to-day grind is as challenging and demanding as ever.

Patt Kelley’s What Am I Going to Do Without You?, a digital exclusive from Top Shelf Productions, is a tale that skilfully contrasts the utterly bizarre with the pedestrian and the mundane. While astonishing Fortean events occur in the background – occasionally intersecting with the central story threads to greater or lesser degree – the main thrust of Kelley’s narrative is the portrayal of average people facing their own dramas; some as earth-shattering as those destructive meteorites, and others quieter and more subdued, but no less crucial in their own way to the individual players.

In a trio of main plot threads elderly couple Flo and Murray must come to terms with Murray’s terminal illness; outcast goth Jeanie deals with teenage angst and her bullying nemesis Kaylee; and lonely dog-owner Katrina is given an object lesson on the truly important things in life when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an old man. In amongst each of these character set pieces the eerie happenings elsewhere impinge on the cast, acting as either catalysts for change, as stirring resolutions to their character conflicts, or tranquil codas to their stories.

In many ways all three of these segments touch on loneliness or the fear thereof. Kelley seems drawn throughout to the concepts of love and death, and the spaces in between. The sense of loss and being alone is almost tangible as the book progresses towards its beautiful conclusion, reminding us life is about renewal and that where one story ends another begins. Currently available only in a digital format via Comixology, this is a book that screams for a print release as well. Kelley has an idiosyncratic visual style that is reminiscent of Gary Larson’s The Far Side, which is fitting given both creators’ ability to make the weird seem everyday and the everyday extraordinary.

Patt Kelley’s great triumph here, then, is that he takes three separate storylines dealing with supposedly small existences in isolation, and juxtaposes them with the surreal and the outlandish to remind us that there is no such thing as an ordinary life. All lives are extraordinary! In a world of the truly fantastic, the most remarkable stories are those that are the most down-to-earth. What Am I Going to Do Without You? is both unbearably poignant and painful, and yet splendidly heartwarming and life-affirming too. Slice-of-life storytelling with dinosaurs may seem something of a contradiction in terms but it succinctly sums up this excellent debut OGN from a creator who should most definitely be watched in the future.

You can buy a digital copy of What Am I Going to Do Without You? from the Comixology site here. You can also see a preview of the book on the Top Shelf site here.

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