Review by Matthew Nielsen
Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner (illustrated by Frank Stack) is an autobiographical book by two writers at once. Harvey and his wife Joyce tell about a year in their lives in which they move house and work at their jobs, and then, as the title suggests, cancer comes along to make everything all the more complicated. What I love about this graphic novel is how detailed the narrative is! We learn about Harvey and Joyce’s living situation and the neighbourhood, but we also get into their heads to explore all the things they were going through. A very challenging time for both of them.
This graphic novel is more focused on the writing than the art. Stack’s art style is able to show everything that needs showing, but it’s also a sketchy mutating sort of deal that feels quite scribbly at times. From what can be gathered from the story, Harvey Pekar probably had an average income, and with that it’s hard to hire a whole team of artists to get to those immaculate levels of detail that some of us crave. Good job nonetheless. It’s like having a house when you want a mansion; in the end, a house’ll do just fine.
Anyway, if you want to share the challenges of Harvey and Joyce, if you want to get to know these two, and how they behave and think through seriously refreshing and brutal honesty, then give this book a read!