I'm Never Coming Back by Julian Hanshaw
The genesis of Julian Hanshaw's latest graphic novel I'm Never Coming Back began with Sand Dunes and Sonic Booms, the 2008 winner of The Observer/Comica graphic short story prize. From this Hanshaw started working on a collection of interconnected tales, dealing with family, love, death and food.
While some readers may harbour the preconception of a graphic novel focussed on the domestic as something bleak and gritty, these comics instead strike a whimsical tone through a balance of pathos, humour and fantastical elements. Hanshaw's restraint ensures this never slips into the clawing or twee and while being very specific in detail, the empathy one feels for the characters enhances a universality in each unenviable situation. However, hope abounds throughout and much of this is down to the artistry in each panel.
The collection can be read in one sitting and after putting it down what remains in the mind is the way Hanshaw intimates so much and states only what is necessary, the humanity in the characters' faces, and the haunting details of the contrasting small and vast environments he has them move through. A beautiful example of the possibilities in this medium. [Ryan Rushton]