Books and Comics

Things to Do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park

by on 16/01/2014
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Publishers
Positives

A bold and expressive treatise on father/ son relationships and the taboo subject of death and how it affects people.

Negatives

Emotionally wrenching.

Editor Rating
Total Score


Bottom Line
 

As a treatise on the taboo subject of death and how it affects people 'Things to do......' is a triumphant masterwork and its final page is one of the most powerfully bitter sweet images in sequential art.

 

Writer & Artist: Aneurin Wright

Publisher: Myriad Editions

It’s Nye’s birthday. When his Father Neil calls him to wish him a happy birthday, he also mentions that he’s been ‘certified for hospice’. The currently unemployed Nye is the only one in a position to look after his father, diagnosed with advanced stage emphysema. Relocating to the retirement park Nye’s days become a routine of pill counting and medical checks. Along the way he learns a lot about himself, life and his father.

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The result of several years worth of work ‘Things to do………’ is an autobiographical tale. Nye here is portrayed by a blue minotaur and his father a blue anthropomorphised rhino. Several other characters are featured throughout most represented by anthropomorphised animals with the exception of the women that feature, which lends an even more surreal edge to the tale. Despite this surreal edge though ‘Things to do……….’ is one of the most real stories you’re ever likely to read.

As the story progresses, there are flashbacks to Nye’s youth as well as dream like sequences. One of these being Nye imagining himself as a comic book style vigilante named ‘The Authorial Persona’ taking on the ruthless CEO of Happy Huff ‘n’ Puff Tobacco Company in the shadowy city of Carcinogenia. The CEO being represented by a aristocratic pig complete with monocle.

Rather than just represent a manifestation of Nye’s desire for vengeance on the corporation responsible for his Father’s debilitating illness, this sequence also works as a meta commentary on itself, as the CEO calls out the hackneyed use of himself being represented by a pig. He also brings forth the point of Nye’s Father being just as responsible for his plight as the tobacco company. It’s an impressively self aware portrayal of the mental anguish and futility that Nye finds himself dealing with.

There’s much more to this story though. An examination of father/son relationships as the two go from bickering over petty things to Nye learning to actually bond with his Father and reconcile over the past and the two, both as emotionally repressed and distant as each other, finally learn to accept each other. It also explores how this impacts other relationships though, like the relationship with his Mother long divorced from his father and Nye’s relationship with his own partner.

One of the most searingly powerful elements of ‘Things to do………….’ is that the reader knows how this story is going to end right from the start. Witnessing Neil’s slow but sure decline is an emotionally wrenching experience. This decline represented by the increaed use of pauses in Neil’s speech bubbles as he wheezes and coughs short of breath.

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‘Things to do……….’ is a tour de force of what can be achieved through the medium sequential art. Aneurin Wright’s art is bold and expressive, the minimal use of colour making it more so. With varied use of panels throughout from several per page to one powerful image. It packs whimsical touches, one memorable sequence being when Nye moves house and it’s revealed the house is atop a huge red elephant which leaps off into the distance, alongside powerful imagery conveying the emotional trauma of Nye’s situation, a sequence involving a neighbour oblivious to Nye’s situation being just one example.

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