Graphic Novel Review: Harvey Knight’s Odyssey by Nick Maandag

Harvey Knight’s Odyssey by Nick Maandag. Drawn & Quarterly, 2023. 9781770466326. 168pp.

This graphic novel contains three separate strange, deadpan stories. Two of them star author and artist Nick Maandag himself.

In “The Plunge” Maandag decides to start making his own coffee at work with a French press, and the process becomes something of an event for everyone there.

“Full Day” starts with a trash machine sucking the hat right off Maandag’s head as he goes to work in the morning. Thus begins a day that includes a meeting that’s difficult to interpret and a random efficiency check of his work, among other bits of weirdness. Toward the end there’s a lewd act (or brilliant piece of performance art, you be the judge) on a subway. (It’s my favorite story and reminds me of my strangest day working at a public library.)

“Harvey Knight’s Odyssey” is the longest story. It involves the religion Solarism, whose members believe humans are products of both light and dark, and that over time, through exposure to light, they can become pure beings. (They use high-powered tanning beds.) The story contains corruption, nudity, cavity searches, sunburns, spiders, and owl-eating.

Worth noting: The endpapers contain ten comic strips. And, despite the cover image, I don’t remember a shark or a bird with human feet anywhere in the book, though it’s full of so many odd moments that I feel like I may have overlooked both.


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