*Starred Review* After only a few glances, you grok why indie-comics mavens rave about the 12-issue comic Demo.
Cloonan's artwork progresses from strength to strength, beginning as an Americanized take on grunge manga
(big eyes, blank faces, bristling or moppy or no hair, lots of little-line detail) in stark black and white, proceeding through reduced lineation and varying amounts of shading to selectively mounting wholly drawn figures on manipulated photo imagery in the last three stories. Also employing a huge range of angles-of-vision and perspective points, it looks like a billion bucks. The story lines aren't bad, either. They're about late-teens-to-early-thirties crises of separation from home, lover, or way of life. Early on, protagonists have scary psychokinetic powers, such as killing with a spoken word or concentrated rage and shape-shifting according to others' expectations. Writer Wood soon modified and eventually dropped that conceit. The hapless young father in the story excerpted for the inaugural Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga
(2006) is just a never-miss rifle shot, and the three twentysomethings in the especially effective "Midnight to Six" are unusual only in having stuck to "The Slacker Pledge" they signed in eighth grade. Lacking recurring characters, Demo
altogether is less reminiscent of other comics series than of a thematic rather than continuous-narrative novel, such as John Horne Burns' The Gallery
(1947). High praise, maybe, but deserving. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved