By Jon Ascher
Cackling Imp Press, $15.00, 112 pages

Neil tells the story of a man at the end of his rope. To escape the demons of his past – abusive religious parents, friends dying too young, Neil moves to New York City. He moves in with someone he doesn’t know and begins working in an art gallery. After his roommate dies from a heroine overdose, Neil decides to kill himself. At the last moment his suicide attempt is thwarted by a past love.

As a lover of graphic novels, this title held high hopes but failed to live up to any expectations. Neil, unfortunately, is a cross between The Matrix and a Dave McKean comic, with none of the redeeming parts of either. Clichés like the main character floating endlessly in a void, contemplating the metaphysical truths of his life make this graphic novel fall far short of decent. The author also chose to jump the story from time period to time period, sometimes making each panel years apart, making it difficult to follow the story.

The redeeming part of this novel is the art. What Ascher lacks in storytelling ability, he makes up for in artistic beauty. Blending life-like illustrations, creative collage and graffiti elements he creates a beautiful collection of art that tells the story better than his words do. The images are gritty, raw, and convoluted at one moment, and peaceful and calming the next, creating a contrast between text and image.

Only because of the art is this graphic novel moderately successful. Anyone would consider themselves lucky to spend an hour with these beautiful illustrations, just make sure to avoid the unfortunate text.

Reviewed by Andrew Keyser