Hello, Again
by Max Estes
(Top Shelf, 2005)

For those readers who don't believe in the moral concept of right or wrong, the idea of forgiveness is useless. Those readers should say goodbye to Hello, Again before you buy it.

Hello, Again is all about right and wrong and forgiveness. This is, indeed, a comic book for mature readers, and not because it has naked adults running around doing naked things. This oddly sized comic book is also about William, his affair with his best friend's girl, his unexpected "murder" of an old sailor and moral "baggage" that opens a hole in the ground.

A hole in the ground?

If this sounds too psychologically dense to be entertaining, all is done (and done well) through dialogue and art reduced to their minimums.

Max Estes' art looks like doodles on a cocktail napkin. It is so simple that it is initially a bit difficult to distinguish William from his best friend. That difficulty passes, however, and investing yourself in this story offers major dividends.

Estes' dialogue is about as simple, commonplace and believable as dialogue can get, and yet his message is profound: you have to answer for the past, not live by it. Ah, you say, you knew that already.

Here is another simple observation from ye old, grizzled scribe: knowing it and living it are two different things altogether.

Another different thing is Estes' approach to forgiveness and my own. His message is that one must look inside to resolve guilt. My message is that when one looks inside, one only sees one's insides; ultimately, forgiveness comes from a higher power than my kidneys.

Despite this difference, I applaud Estes' courageous choice of an adult subject, his sparing use of profanity (which makes it more powerful), the absence of graphic sex and his obvious talent. Hurrah! Twice!

by Michael Vance
26 November 2005

Buy it from Amazon.com.