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The Ticking is the story of Edison Steelhead, a boy who at birth takes his mother's life and his father's deformed face. Secreted away by his father to be raised in a remote island lighthouse, Edison relates to his surroundings in the only way he knows how--by capturing them in his sketchbook. Able to find beauty in even the most grotesque of things, Edison embraces his ow The Ticking is the story of Edison Steelhead, a boy who at birth takes his mother's life and his father's deformed face. Secreted away by his father to be raised in a remote island lighthouse, Edison relates to his surroundings in the only way he knows how--by capturing them in his sketchbook. Able to find beauty in even the most grotesque of things, Edison embraces his own unsettling appearance and sets out to confront the rest of the world. Waiting for him on its alien shores are the sights and experiences that will give shape to both his future and his past. Written and illustrated by acclaimed artist RenEe French, The Ticking is a compelling work of graphic literature, a reminder that before we can appreciate the beauty around us, we must first find it within ourselves. A gorgeous 216-page hardcover graphic novel, designed by Jordan Crane.


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The Ticking is the story of Edison Steelhead, a boy who at birth takes his mother's life and his father's deformed face. Secreted away by his father to be raised in a remote island lighthouse, Edison relates to his surroundings in the only way he knows how--by capturing them in his sketchbook. Able to find beauty in even the most grotesque of things, Edison embraces his ow The Ticking is the story of Edison Steelhead, a boy who at birth takes his mother's life and his father's deformed face. Secreted away by his father to be raised in a remote island lighthouse, Edison relates to his surroundings in the only way he knows how--by capturing them in his sketchbook. Able to find beauty in even the most grotesque of things, Edison embraces his own unsettling appearance and sets out to confront the rest of the world. Waiting for him on its alien shores are the sights and experiences that will give shape to both his future and his past. Written and illustrated by acclaimed artist RenEe French, The Ticking is a compelling work of graphic literature, a reminder that before we can appreciate the beauty around us, we must first find it within ourselves. A gorgeous 216-page hardcover graphic novel, designed by Jordan Crane.

30 review for The Ticking

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The heartwarming story of a little boy born with a horribly fucked up face. No, I mean, this kid is all "HEYYOUGUYS!" kinds of homely. This book, full of cute-yet-creepy illustrations, is about a child who is born wanting to hide his face from the world. His father is ugly in all the same ways, and has some even more deeply ingrained issues with his appearance. If I remember correctly, he wears a mask and a wig. Anyway, throughout the story, the little boy grows into a little man. He goes out to The heartwarming story of a little boy born with a horribly fucked up face. No, I mean, this kid is all "HEYYOUGUYS!" kinds of homely. This book, full of cute-yet-creepy illustrations, is about a child who is born wanting to hide his face from the world. His father is ugly in all the same ways, and has some even more deeply ingrained issues with his appearance. If I remember correctly, he wears a mask and a wig. Anyway, throughout the story, the little boy grows into a little man. He goes out to seak his fortune, and works to overcome his self-doubt. So, you know the moral, but you probably haven't seen it delivered in such an understated way. It's charming. Although we're all exceedingly goodlooking here on goodreads, everyone can relate to having something about them they would change if they could. For me, I've always despised my hair, because it's incredibly thick, and it automatically looks stupid whenever it gets longer than an inch or two. Plus, I don't look good bald. When I was in sixth grade, I had a rattail, because I thought that was cool at the time. This is a picture of a random kid with a rattail, because YOU WILL NEVER SEE PICTURES OF ME WITH ONE. I don't remember why I went off on that tangent. I'm tired, grad school sucks, I hate literature reviews, and I'm going to fail at life. Anyway, back to this loverly book, "The Ticking": I read this over a half-hour lunch break, and it entertained me. You can read roughly ninety pages a minute, because each page is an illustration with one line of dialogue beneath it. This is what French's art looks like: [image error] Isn't he cute for an ugly little boy? But really, you should see his face. It's Picasso-level jacked up. Some of the pictures are pretty freaky, like the one where a tongue starts coming through the wall. And, if there's one thing I don't see enough of in graphic novels, it's gloominess. This book is pretty gloomy, but not in a pretentious or self conscious kind of way, just mildly sad in a comforting way like Anne Sexton poems. And, since I should stop enjoying myself and start studying again, I'll close with a photograph taken by the author. This is one of my faves. If you wanna see more, click here.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Venable

    So original and so moving. Her art floats lightly on the pages, the light pencils are stunning in a world of inked comics. The story itself killed me from page one after which point I was grinning or tearing up depending on the page. KUDOS to Top Shelf for the packaging of this book, which makes my list of best cover treatments I've ever seen. It's impossible to see this book and not want to touch it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    jesse

    click to enlarge tragic, bleak and gloomy are the words that comes to mind when reading the ticking. it is a work of surrealist fiction in a graphic novel format. a wonderfully clothbound hardcover book with gold leaf engravings and can be read in a matter of minutes. growing up on a remote island and raised by a single parent who wants him to cover up his face everytime someone visits, you'd think that edison might strive to be different - when in fact it is anything but. yes, he knows he is click to enlarge tragic, bleak and gloomy are the words that comes to mind when reading the ticking. it is a work of surrealist fiction in a graphic novel format. a wonderfully clothbound hardcover book with gold leaf engravings and can be read in a matter of minutes. growing up on a remote island and raised by a single parent who wants him to cover up his face everytime someone visits, you'd think that edison might strive to be different - when in fact it is anything but. yes, he knows he is not beautiful. but when an opportunity would have allowed him to alter his appearance, he tells his father that he does not want to change the way he looks. as readers we come to understand that it is the father himself who cannot cope with his son being different. ed, on the other hand can see beauty everywhere and appreciates things not for what they should or might have been but rather for what they already are.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shauta Marsh

    This is a lovely picture book. I read it to my children often. It is about a little boy who is deformed living with his father. His mother died giving birth to him, I know it sounds like a Disney movie but it is not at all. It's mainly about a parent's expectations for their child and the difficultly commuincating between the parent and child. It's not a downer. And the illustrations are beautiful. Yay!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rue

    A very fast short read yet a touching and a tragic one about a boy called Edison who's born with a dead mother and a deformed face which he inherited from his father. Edison's father, Cal, tries to protect his son by isolating him in an island and hiding him behind masks. This story portrays so many problems in life such as the difficulty of communication between children and their parents as well as how "beauty" and "ugliness" and "normality" are perceived by us.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rizal

    Obtained e-copy from scribd app. This is a very heartbreaking story about a boy with deformed face that lives with his dad. It was quite disturbing but poignantly beautiful. Definitely.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Despite being over 200 pages, this is a graphic short story, and despite being a short story, it covers decades. A boy is born with birth defects, killing his mother in the process. His father hides him away on an island and covers his deformed head whenever visitors come ashore. It's as if David Lynch and Charles Dickens came together to write a tearjerker. The problem I have with many Fantagraphics books is that they're so slight. With two panels per page, there's just not a lot here and despit Despite being over 200 pages, this is a graphic short story, and despite being a short story, it covers decades. A boy is born with birth defects, killing his mother in the process. His father hides him away on an island and covers his deformed head whenever visitors come ashore. It's as if David Lynch and Charles Dickens came together to write a tearjerker. The problem I have with many Fantagraphics books is that they're so slight. With two panels per page, there's just not a lot here and despite it's 216 pages, it's easily read within 15 or 20 minutes. I'll have forgotten it by the week's out. The art is nice, but simple. I'd like to see something more ambitious with the same weird, dark qualities.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Romane

    This is a story about Edison Steelhead, a little boy who is deformed. The story itself is original and sad which made me tear up at some point. The illustrations are a bit weird, yet somehow uplifting. It's mainly about how you see yourself and knowing that deep down you're still beautiful no matter what. It isn't always based on the physical appearance. It also conveys the parent and child relationship. Simply astonishing. Click here too see more artworks from the author, Renée French. This is a story about Edison Steelhead, a little boy who is deformed. The story itself is original and sad which made me tear up at some point. The illustrations are a bit weird, yet somehow uplifting. It's mainly about how you see yourself and knowing that deep down you're still beautiful no matter what. It isn't always based on the physical appearance. It also conveys the parent and child relationship. Simply astonishing. Click here too see more artworks from the author, Renée French.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I really like the illustrations- they juxtapose crude against classic, plain with detailed. But... I just couldn't get into the 'story'- there's alot of white space for filling in your own observations and conclusions, and alot of symbolism for you to interpret as you wish. I like the concept of finding beauty in the grotesque, which is what I got out of it. But overall...it just wasn't for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melusina

    Lovingly drawn and written, an ode to the outsider in all of us, a story of shame, the love for art, with simple yet beautiful crayon drawings!

  11. 4 out of 5

    श्रेया (Shreya)

    Beautiful, endearing and unique. I noticed how some readers called this sad or heartbreaking but I found it uplifting- there are so many positive takeaways from this sweet little story. I felt deeply connected with the character of Edison, especially his interest in the bizarre and his habit of drawing out such interests. Some readers also called this book 'surreal', which I don't understand. What's 'surreal' about facial abnormality? Isn't Hypertelorism a real condition? And there happen to be r Beautiful, endearing and unique. I noticed how some readers called this sad or heartbreaking but I found it uplifting- there are so many positive takeaways from this sweet little story. I felt deeply connected with the character of Edison, especially his interest in the bizarre and his habit of drawing out such interests. Some readers also called this book 'surreal', which I don't understand. What's 'surreal' about facial abnormality? Isn't Hypertelorism a real condition? And there happen to be real people who live/are forced to live on the margins of society and/or are physically at a large distance from mainstream society- I can't grasp what's surreal about that. Anyway, I loved the way The Ticking is drawn. I just personally prefer to read graphic novels with less written text and more drawing/empty space, since I believe it encourages the readers to actively engage with the text by attempting to 'fill in the blanks' and pushes them to create their own story from the given work. I also wonder if Christophe Chabouté's graphic novel Alone was inspired from this as there are the glaring similarities between the two. Some parts also reminded me of Delia Owens' novel Where the Crawdads Sing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chad Jordahl

    Poignant, touching, odd. Wonderful art.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Belem P. De la Fuente

    Somewhat twisted but interesting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Surrealist art is a genre that I find very confusing and at times disheartening. What makes it such a unique genre is the series of questions it forces one to ask, be it the meaning or motivation behind the piece, what the creators intentions may or may not have been and probably the most basic one that we all experience "just what the hell is that exactly". I think this is what makes it such a compelling genre to many of us. Unfortunately there is a downside, if your the kind of person that exp Surrealist art is a genre that I find very confusing and at times disheartening. What makes it such a unique genre is the series of questions it forces one to ask, be it the meaning or motivation behind the piece, what the creators intentions may or may not have been and probably the most basic one that we all experience "just what the hell is that exactly". I think this is what makes it such a compelling genre to many of us. Unfortunately there is a downside, if your the kind of person that expects answers or deeper meanings, many times you're left twisting in the wind. I find many "artists" who claim to be surrealists to be nothing more than narcissistic pricks with incredible imaginations. Half complete artists, who posses the means to say something, but have absolutely nothing important to say. And when confronted with this complaint they retreat into the condescending world of simply saying there is no deeper meaning to art, or that it isn't art's mission to answer questions, or very simply "you just dont get it". The Ticking is very much a work of surrealist fiction, and luckily, it doesn't fall into the trappings of the genre and those who work within it. The sense of wonder is there, as is the constant questioning. Like many works within the genre, the road to overall understanding is very long and very personal. Unlike the many works within the genre though there is something tangible to take away when you reach the end of that road. What I find most incredible is that the story deals with so much pain, and yet it never transfers that pain onto you. Maybe because it's told in such a small, fragmented manner. I would fault the story for this, but in it's defense, the overall message of the triumph of will and the beauty of what the human spirit can achieve gets through more than just fine. In the end I'm actually glad it turned out that way, had it been very heavy handed on the pain I probably would have missed the point entirely. What I got at the end of the book was this intense "good feeling". Not the kind of feeling that can be summed up with the usual "heart warming" or "touching" or "feel good" or whatever other platitudes that are usually thrown around. No, it's more of a sense of achievement. Seeing Ed grow, and become more and more beautiful, despite his disfigurement, through his desire to find meaning and place left me with a sense of optimism and hope that I have never experienced through any kind of surrealist work (I will admit I'm not a expert on the genre though so maybe there are more experiences like this out there). I think this is very much a universal work, despite its often times confusing narrative exposition. Don't go in expecting all the answers to emerge automatically or for them to be spelled out for you. This is very much a gentle, almost naturalistic work. If you sit back and let it run it's course, the mountain of mystery will erode. And what you are left with, is the kind of thing that makes you happy to be alive.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Spectrum

    The Ticking is another wonderful graphic novel that relies solely on its images to tell a story. The art is beautifully drawn in single, black-and-white frames on each page, with little or no text. The main characters of this lonely tale are a father and son living on a remote island. While a bit overprotected, the father is doing his best to protect his deformed son from the judgmental eye of the outside world. The son, Edison Steelhead, is content spending his days exploring the island and dra The Ticking is another wonderful graphic novel that relies solely on its images to tell a story. The art is beautifully drawn in single, black-and-white frames on each page, with little or no text. The main characters of this lonely tale are a father and son living on a remote island. While a bit overprotected, the father is doing his best to protect his deformed son from the judgmental eye of the outside world. The son, Edison Steelhead, is content spending his days exploring the island and drawing many of the things he encounters. However; he begins to learn that his father’s face was once deformed like his but that he had received facial reconstruction surgery at some time. Edison later discovers that his father plans for him to get the same procedure. Upon learning this information, Edison decides it is time to leave home and the island. Once on his own, Edison begins exploring and experiencing life and this new surroundings. The Ticking is a novel about loneliness. Every character is alone. As a child, Edison spends the majority of his days exploring the island, drawing, and wondering. His father, a widow, rarely has visitors and when he does the encounters are always brief. Even when Edison is living in the city, he still spends his days alone in his apartment. Tragically, Edison learns that his father was always close by watching over him and that he was never, truly, alone. Additionally, Renee French’s delicate, black-and-white illustrations heighten the lonely tone of the work. Each frame looks as if the slightest brush or wisp of air would smear and erode away the art from the page thus erasing the memory of this father and son for good. Simply put, this was a great read. And even though it was a bit depressing in parts, overall, it is a uniquely, cute tale that reminds us all about the importance of self-discovery and family.

  16. 5 out of 5

    sarabi

    I read the book the tickling by Renée French. The main characters are Edison and his father. When Edison was born his mother died. Edison’s father was sad because Edison was born with a disfigured face like him. Edison gets tired of his dad not liking him the way he is and wanting him to get an operation to get his face to look good. Edison runs away and grows up and lives alone. Edison was born with a disfigured face like his dad. Sadly his mother died when she gave birth to him, and his dad wa I read the book the tickling by Renée French. The main characters are Edison and his father. When Edison was born his mother died. Edison’s father was sad because Edison was born with a disfigured face like him. Edison gets tired of his dad not liking him the way he is and wanting him to get an operation to get his face to look good. Edison runs away and grows up and lives alone. Edison was born with a disfigured face like his dad. Sadly his mother died when she gave birth to him, and his dad was disappointed that his son’s face was disfigured like his. Disappointed about his son’s looks Edison’s father takes him to live in a far away lighthouse, where no one can see his son. Edison and his father lived there. When Edison gets bigger his father tried to get him to get an operation on his face. Edison refused to get a face operation. Time passes and Edison gets tried of his dad not accepting him the way he is so Edison decides to run away. Edison runs away. Edison grows up he moves into this little house one day he heard something in his wall then his dad comes out of the wall. Somehow his dad dies. This book was interesting but confusing also.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    This was really lovely. Edison Steelhead has a deformed face and lives on a remote island with his dad. He draws a lot in his sketchbook and sometimes wears goofy animal masks (sometimes at the behest of his dad when people visit). He draws a lot in his sketchbook and he is fascinated by the world around him. Eventually his dad brings home a new sister - a monkey named Francine. The plot is pretty simple, but Edison is such a terrific character that you really see his personality grow out of thi This was really lovely. Edison Steelhead has a deformed face and lives on a remote island with his dad. He draws a lot in his sketchbook and sometimes wears goofy animal masks (sometimes at the behest of his dad when people visit). He draws a lot in his sketchbook and he is fascinated by the world around him. Eventually his dad brings home a new sister - a monkey named Francine. The plot is pretty simple, but Edison is such a terrific character that you really see his personality grow out of this weird situation. This was definitely a change of pace from what I've been reading lately; not so much in tone, but in structure. Each page isn't filled with images. There's one or two images on a page, lots of white space around, and maybe some delicately handwritten text beneath an image. French's panels are beautifully delicate, very nuanced pencil drawings. There is so much captured in these little images! I read it more than once and notice so much when I read it again. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's definitely for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    ryo narasaki

    i just don't know how to rate this. i often had a hard time figuring out what was going on, which i guess is bad. but it may be that i just got so caught up in it, as i tend to do with graphic novels in general. in any case, the way edison (the protagonist) quietly goes about his life while loving his widower father and simultaneously rejecting his father's internalized self-hatred is gorgeous. the whole book is beautifully put together - thick cool pages and at most 2 boxes per page (no fourth- i just don't know how to rate this. i often had a hard time figuring out what was going on, which i guess is bad. but it may be that i just got so caught up in it, as i tend to do with graphic novels in general. in any case, the way edison (the protagonist) quietly goes about his life while loving his widower father and simultaneously rejecting his father's internalized self-hatred is gorgeous. the whole book is beautifully put together - thick cool pages and at most 2 boxes per page (no fourth-wall breakages made it seem very traditional, but the style seems to be understatedly experimental...?). i just didn't understand the fascination with fly tackle.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    i liked this charming graphic novel a lot (another point for jessa). it's novel-sized, but it didn't take very long to read at all, because there are only one or two panels on each page. the artwork is all pencil drawing, with hand-written dialogue in different scripts for each character beneath (there's almost no other text beyond indications of time and a brief introduction) . it's the story of edison steelhead, whose mother dies in childbirth and is born with no ears and his eyes on the sides i liked this charming graphic novel a lot (another point for jessa). it's novel-sized, but it didn't take very long to read at all, because there are only one or two panels on each page. the artwork is all pencil drawing, with hand-written dialogue in different scripts for each character beneath (there's almost no other text beyond indications of time and a brief introduction) . it's the story of edison steelhead, whose mother dies in childbirth and is born with no ears and his eyes on the sides of his head. his father tries to hide his son's abnormalities, taking him to live in an isolated lighthouse. eventually, edison has to decide for himself how to live his life, though.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    I don't understand the reviews that make this graphic novel sound like a child's picture book. It's a devastating story but it's being told (and shown) in such a beautiful way. It's almost like looking at old photographs. The landscape scenes are peaceful and breathtaking, giving the reader the sense that she/he can actually feel the breeze, and the texture of the artistry creating a similar effect. I think part of this graphic novel's charm lies in the feeling of confusion at the end. I was left I don't understand the reviews that make this graphic novel sound like a child's picture book. It's a devastating story but it's being told (and shown) in such a beautiful way. It's almost like looking at old photographs. The landscape scenes are peaceful and breathtaking, giving the reader the sense that she/he can actually feel the breeze, and the texture of the artistry creating a similar effect. I think part of this graphic novel's charm lies in the feeling of confusion at the end. I was left feeling both hopeful and sad at the same time. I'd recommend giving this one a read, even just for the simple-yet-fantastic artistry.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Ok, the goodreads reviews for this book are almost as weird as the actual book. Anyway, I took this one from the library without knowing that it was a graphic novel (I thought it was a horror book, for some reason?), so the three stars is probably partly due to my total unawareness of what I was getting into. It's about a deformed kid whose deformed father is ashamed of him and how the kid negotiates the world. The drawing style is very touching, but I think I skimmed over most of the symbolism, Ok, the goodreads reviews for this book are almost as weird as the actual book. Anyway, I took this one from the library without knowing that it was a graphic novel (I thought it was a horror book, for some reason?), so the three stars is probably partly due to my total unawareness of what I was getting into. It's about a deformed kid whose deformed father is ashamed of him and how the kid negotiates the world. The drawing style is very touching, but I think I skimmed over most of the symbolism, etc.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    Again, read this in the car on the way to the store from the library. Seeing a theme? Anyway, this book is FUCKING HEARTBREAKING. Absolutely wonderful, but heartbreaking. It was a fast, fun read (obviously bc it was like a 10 minute drive and I just had a few pages I finished in my driveway). Really puts society's definition of "beauty" and fitting in into a good perspective. [I also cried a little in the car as I finished it. But we won't tell anyone that.]

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fatima

    This is a picture book about a boy that came into the world with a deformed face and his mother's death. It's honestly a very beautiful and moving story about how he struggles throughout his life with his father who has the same face but hides it in shame. The art is so beautiful and creepy at the same time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    S G-W

    David Lynch would have a field day.

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Bibliopossum

    4.5/5 When a son is born at the cost of his mother's life and inherits the same facial deformity as his father, the boy is whisked away to a lighthouse and raised in isolation. This is a pretty standard story for me considering what I've consumed in the past that shared the premise of "unusual looking protagonist accepts their uniqueness" (mainly movies like Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Penelope starring Christina Ricci), but there were a couple things that came out of this that I enj 4.5/5 When a son is born at the cost of his mother's life and inherits the same facial deformity as his father, the boy is whisked away to a lighthouse and raised in isolation. This is a pretty standard story for me considering what I've consumed in the past that shared the premise of "unusual looking protagonist accepts their uniqueness" (mainly movies like Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Penelope starring Christina Ricci), but there were a couple things that came out of this that I enjoyed. What Works - Edison and Calvin's contrasting attitudes about their faces. From the moment Edison is born, Calvin is ashamed of his son's face. Instead of sharing this point of view, Edison dedicates his time on the island examining and sketching the different things he finds, from flies to dried up cigarettes to the scars on his father's sleeping face. Because of this, Edison grows to appreciate the inherent beauty of everything. (view spoiler)[What really intrigued me was when Edison unearthed a mask and box of ear prosthesis that once belonged to his dad. When he reveals his findings, Calvin demands he give them back, and the last we see of them is in Edison's recordings. Does this mean Calvin was also raised at this lighthouse? Did Calvin's self-hatred germinate here during his boyhood? Another notable event is when Edison is taken to the mainland for a plastic surgery pre-op appointment. That night, he tells his father plainly that he does not want the operation. Calvin's response? "We'll try again when you're older." The implication that Calvin does not recognize or accept his son's wishes...what could be going on in Calvin's head? Fear of the world rejecting his son? His own rejection? Or is the pressure to conform to a singular model of humanity that great on this man, the only person who could sympathize with Edison? (hide spoiler)] - Patrice. (view spoiler)[In the middle of the book, following the doctor's appointment, we're introduced to Edison's "sister," who is simply a chimpanzee in a dress. The interactions between Edison, Patrice, and the father Calvin is pretty heartbreaking to see. Patrice gets to go fishing with Calvin. Patrice's drawings, mere scribbles on paper, are framed while the one portrait Edison drew of his father was found in the trash. She even gets stories read to her while Edison listens in from the hallway. It's a cruel kind of peer pressure. It reads like "You'll get this when you look more like her." (hide spoiler)] What Doesn't -The title. I don't know why it's called The Ticking.​ That's the only gripe I have, but it's a big one because a title is typically the first thing you read when you hold a book.​ It's enough to knock half a star off a review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    It’s called “The Ticking” and it looks like this: And so the story slowly unravels from this point as dealing with the sometimes inborn difficulties and troubles of parenting. We have a child whose face is strangely constructed and troubling to look at. That face had wide-set eyes and lacks ears. There’s a charming grotesqueness about it all. I found the art, which differed quite a bit from the first book, to have some similarities to Edward Gorey. I will admit here that I don’t generally get th It’s called “The Ticking” and it looks like this: And so the story slowly unravels from this point as dealing with the sometimes inborn difficulties and troubles of parenting. We have a child whose face is strangely constructed and troubling to look at. That face had wide-set eyes and lacks ears. There’s a charming grotesqueness about it all. I found the art, which differed quite a bit from the first book, to have some similarities to Edward Gorey. I will admit here that I don’t generally get the charm of Edward Gorey. I am not morbid and not whimsical so I am just not the audience. As this story progresses, the child and the parent have various miscues and misunderstandings. Like most stories about parenting the thing is not necessarily the thing. The face is grotesque but exaggerated and this is not a story about deformity and a cruel world; it’s not Wonder at all. This kind of storybook reminds me a little too much of people I have known and met and interacted with who most definitely have talent. But that talent has a kind of creep to it. A lot of people have this kind of talent-creep….leading someone like Michael Jordan to want to play baseball….or Bruce Willis or Johnny Depp to play music….sure they can play guitar and might even be able to sing, but refusing to understand how structurally different those things are side by side and mistaking one for the other is a problem. David Bowie actually could act, but he was never going to be as good an actor as a musician. There’s an impulse found in some artists and illustrators to also be storytellers, as if they are intricately linked and not two separate skills you have to work at to make sense of. Plenty of amazing artists cannot tell stories and plenty of storytellers cannot illustrate their own works. And god help us when they try.

  27. 4 out of 5

    A B

    The graphic novel genre seems to be the one where I am most likely to say the following about a book: Well, I think it's safe to say that I have not read anything like this. The story is deceptively simple. You have to read it carefully and look for tiny clues in the dialogue and the illustrations. While that's not unusual in graphic novels, it's of particular importance here. A motherless boy grows up under the watchful eye of his father. Our hero starts to notice that he might be a little bit d The graphic novel genre seems to be the one where I am most likely to say the following about a book: Well, I think it's safe to say that I have not read anything like this. The story is deceptively simple. You have to read it carefully and look for tiny clues in the dialogue and the illustrations. While that's not unusual in graphic novels, it's of particular importance here. A motherless boy grows up under the watchful eye of his father. Our hero starts to notice that he might be a little bit different. The artwork is simple but effective. Each page has a single square panel that takes up less than half of the page. Some are just squares with lines or crisscrosses, which I did not quite understand their relation to the story. Not particularly recommended, but very short read if you are curious. Jury's still out on Patrice. I do not understand the chimp.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Nobody disturbs me like Renee French. She's such an incredible illustrator and so easily is able to capture such distorted, uncomfortable and unsettling aspects of reality. The Ticking is French's story of a strange, neglected boy, his emotionally disconnected father, his "sister" and his place in the world. It's very loose, giving the reader lots of options for interpreting the intent, almost a children's book, but without the obvious moral or uplifting ending. And, damn, she can draw.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brenna Sydel

    So wonderfully bizarre and beautiful. The images are so soft and gentle and there is an innocence to them that makes you feel warm even though they are disturbing. This is my second or third time rereading this book and I still don't grasp anything further than I did before. There is beauty in all that is grotesque. French has a way of capturing that in a unique and effective way. This feels so intimate and personal.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    As someone who is actually disfigured and has been my whole life, I feel totally different than most reviews I've looked at who think this is oh so lovely. Historically we have been hidden away, and my parents were ashamed of me and being seen with me. So, yeah, no. It was ok because that was real.

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