You may have seen some of Don Nace’s art and scenic art in films like “Across the Universe” (doing the artwork for “Jude”), “I Am Legend,” “Fatal Attraction,” and “The Manchurian Candidate.”
But here I am reviewing a Thrifty Thursday selection in Don Nace’s Drawn Out, a kind of graphic novel/comic strip that the inside flap describes as thirty years in the making.
Writing a review for this kind of novel can be challenging, as a large portion of what makes Drawn Out so special lies in the kind of ambiguous expressionism that lies in the drawings.
Drawn Out is many things, features many of the recurring themes that I’ve been looking at in recent selections here on the blog. Nace looks at the revelations and growth of a young man, loss of a parent, marriage, fatherhood, alcoholism, and depression, amongst other trappings of adulthood. There is tragedy, there is humor, there is daily life.
While the themes and ideas are nothing new, it’s Nace’s drawings that impart incredible amounts of emotion. The drawings sometimes looking more like ink blots, allowing us a window into a troubled psyche.
Still, despite the sadness and tragedy, despite death, despite depression, despite aging, and despite a troubled marriage, the novel ends on a somewhat hopeful note of acceptance and complacence. The ending and the bits of humor prove that the lights are never out. Sometimes they’re simply dimmed in shadow.
I suppose the question is what, exactly, is drawn out in Drawn Out? Perhaps it’s psychic pain, the novel acting like a drawing (heh..) salve, drawing itself being a kind of poultice. The narrator certainly describes drawing as having a kind of messianic power within his life.
But maybe it’s more. Drawn Out draws something out in all of us. There’s something relatable, there’s something profoundly universal in the trials and tribulations of human suffering–sure, there can be the good, the revelatory, but there’s also the tragic.
I may be digressing, but I’m reminded of Edward Burke’s essay on the nature of
the beautiful and the sublime in which he essentially suggests that the beautiful, of course, has the power to move us, but it’s the sublime, a kind of brush with death, that is profoundly more moving.
In other words, think of a roller coaster, of horror movies. Burke would suggest that we enjoy those things because they give us a brush with death in which we, ourselves, come to no harm. Sure, a beautiful painting is magnificent, but it in no way comes near the fear of mortality and oblivion.
Don Nace touches on the beautiful, but he also draws us in as he draws out the sublime. Drawn Out is a strange collection, but it’s a journey very much worth taking, for both the art and the sheer humanity of it all.
And so I’ll leave you on the same note of complacence that Nace leaves all of us in Drawn Out.