The Lodger by Karl Stevens

The Lodger
by Karl Stevens
KSA Publishing, 2010

Hmm. This album is a collection of the comic strip Failure, which appears in alt. weekly The Boston Phoenix. It doesn’t provide much insight into Xeric winner Steven’s inner thoughts, but on the plus side it’s not particularly self-indulgent for an autobiographical cartoon. In a year Stevens breaks up with his girlfriend, moves all the way from Lower Allston, Boston to, er, Jamaica Plain, Boston, where he lodges with his supportive former art teacher and gets a lovely new girlfriend. And paints lots of naked women. And walks his beagle, Cookie.

That’s it for the plot. I kept waiting for a ninja attack or tea-soaked madeleine flashback, but neither were forthcoming.

The artwork is exceptional, intricately cross-hatched ink drawings from photo references, and the more conventional pages of “strips” are broken up with oil paintings, watercolours and ink portraits of the characters. Form over content? It’s sincere, and likeable enough.

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