Graphic Novel Review: The Thud by Mikaël Ross

The Thud by Mikaël Ross. Translated by Nika Knight. Fantagraphics, 2021. 9781683964063. 126pp.

It’s Noel’s birthday, and he’s super excited about celebrating it with his mumsie. She gives him a guitar, tells him they’ll be seeing AC/DC together in Berlin, and assures him they’ll be together forever. But that doesn’t happen because that night she falls and has to be rushed to the hospital. Noel can’t take care of himself, so he’s sent to Neuerkerode, a village populated mostly by folks with developmental disabilities. (This is not obvious for while.) At first Noel is a little reluctant to join the other residents for meals and activities, but he’s soon taking part and making friends and even develops a crush on another resident, Penelope (though this irritates another dude who is in love with her, and Alice, who falls in love with Noel). The stories are all short episodes that add up to a remarkable graphic novel illustrated with a combination of inks and colored pencils.

Noel’s panic at trying to contact emergency services, and the look into his imagination when he wanders alone outside the hospital where his mother is being treated are amazing moments, and the first time I clued into the idea that he wasn’t a little kid with way too much energy. My favorite part is probably the most serious, when an older resident at Neuerkerode, Irma, tells Noel her story about living in Neuerkerode during the Nazi era, and how her brother and others were taken away and never came back. (Neuerkerode is a real village, and Ross visited it for several years to talk with residents while he worked on the graphic novel.)


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