Have you ever felt like a very small cog in a very large machine, trying your best to putter away at your humble tasks while circumstances spiraled wildly out of your extremely limited control, making you feel increasingly lost and confused as the world grew ever more unfriendly to you?
It’s 2021, of course you have.
The Book Tour by Andi Watson is a graphic novel about small-time author Fretwell going on a book tour, and finding it slowly grow out of hand. Someone steals his suitcase, he struggles to get in contact with his publisher, and soon finds himself at the center of a murder investigation. I know the word “Kafkaesque” borders on painful cliché at this point, but it’s incredibly apropos in The Book Tour’s case. Watson does a phenomenal job of creating a moody world designed to confuse Fretwell (and by extension, the reader), pushing the protagonist into inane bureaucratic loops and one-sided conversations. Fretwell struggles to connect with the other characters in the book in any meaningful way, as well as to understand what seems to be happening around him as his book tour falls apart, and the entire disconcerting experience is as surreal as it is witty.
The art style perfectly supplements the story, as well. Characters are drawn abstractly, rather like caricatures than real people, while the surroundings have detailed textures and shading. The end result is, of course, a subtly oppressive world in which people don’t really see each other as people, and the quick, loose pen strokes create a more frenetic atmosphere as the book tour reaches its climax.
As a major fan of graphic novels, I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t heard of Andi Watson before, as he clearly wrote exactly the kind of books I like. I was surprised and impressed when I found out that this is actually Watson’s first foray into adult books, and that previously he was known for illustrating children’s books (such as Glister, which we happened to have here at the library). I thought The Book Tour was a fantastic (as well as quick!) read, and I certainly hope he continues to write more.