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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘3 Story’ quickly grows on you

    Tragedy is invigorating. The initial sickness in your stomach, the wave of unsettling thoughts — they get your attention, forcing you to acknowledge the complexity of your grief. No matter how much the onset of agony rattles our psyche, catharsis fulfills a very basic human desire: To feel wholly alive.

    Matt Kindt’s heartbreaking graphic novel “”3 Story”” fulfills such a need. Broken into three stories, the graphic novel chronicles the life of Craig Pressgang, a man whose growth never ceases. Each story is narrated by a different woman in Craig’s life: his mother, his lover and his daughter. Seamlessly transposed, the women’s narratives forgo maudlin sensibilities in favor of raw pain.

    Each woman is broken by Craig’s ailment, suffering the ever-growing distance caused by Craig’s size. All three have no choice but to become part of Craig’s life — his mother bore him, his lover fell for him and his daughter was born to him. Their mutual odyssey plays with the basic notion of fate, suggesting that it is not a serendipitous creature, but rather, a cruel decree.

    The women persevere as companions to Craig almost as a reaction to their perpetual anxiety. While Craig’s condition presents the women with an excuse to resort to histrionics and subservience, each one fights for a genuine connection.

    But their world just isn’t made for that sort of thing.

    It isn’t only the women in Craig’s life who suffer. Craig’s entire world is fragile. Buildings, cities and even other people lack the infrastructure to survive a walking monument. The loneliness of Craig’s existence is matched only by the destruction he causes.

    Kindt, who wrote and illustrated the graphic novel, does not shy away from this devastation, presenting images and musings of only the most melancholy type. Blistering asides and brief anecdotes flash across the pages, reminders of static-laden television sets and distorted telephone calls. Against the backdrop of the mid-20th century, Craig’s life trudges onward, a vessel as only could be built during the nuclear age.

    Tormented faces are rendered in a crudely applied bastardization of Pop art. Kindt’s illustrations are shaded pastels; glossy hues of joy, shrouded by the misty uncertainty of Craig’s fate. The world that Kindt creates is not unlike our own. It shines on a first glance, but dissolves under the unspoken terrors of mortality and an uncontrollable future.

    Kindt maximizes Craig’s narrative arc with casual allusions to his somewhat illustrious career. Advertisements for Craig’s artwork and newspaper clippings of his early sports career make brief appearances like snapshots in a photo album. These momentary intrusions of non-narrated storytelling mirror Craig’s unwelcome entrance into the world around him. Kindt’s narrative merges Craig’s public and private lives; two dead-ends coalescing into one endless, desolate road.

    “”3 Story”” has an overbearing sense of finality: Life will hurt you again and again. This moral is neither fun nor pleasant. Yet within the constant drive of the three heroines to connect — even if only for a moment — lies a striking belief in the human condition, one that excites, exhilarates and ultimately exonerates “”3 Story”” from the genre of melodrama. It also makes you proud to be alive.

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