Annabel, Graham. Stickleback. Alternative Comics, 2004. ISBN 1-891867-80-6 48 pp. $6.95
The creative process is explored in this metaphorical comic by Annabel, in which George, a toilet paper artist, struggles to create a sculpture entry for a rapidly approaching show. Foiled at every turn by his cat Patty (who tends to destroy his work), a demanding friend who takes him away from his work, and the equivalent of writers block, George struggles to produce on a deadline. Art imitates life when he uses his experience of hiding out in a bathroom to avoid getting beaten up as the basis of his next creation.
Annabel pokes gentle comic fun at the creative process and tells universal stories–who hasn’t reluctantly given in to a needy friend, only to have a great adventure? Annabel is a minimalist, and Stickleback is no exception. His greatest talent is creating recognizable moods with a few expressive lines (eyebrows are key). Occasionally the pacing is too slow, but the precisely timed panels would probably translate well to film. The message that everything is cyclical is clear but subtle. Stickleback is a solid and affordable addition to library collections.