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Vacancy (Nobrow 17x23) Paperback – June 2, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Author-artist Jen Lee’s detail and attentiveness in this aspect is a pleasure to behold; fashion is a facet that’s too often overlooked and underused in comics. [ ] Vacancy (Nobrow Press) is a beautiful looking book in general; Lee’s use of color and shape is gorgeous and evocative. The sense of emptiness and uneasy quiet she conjures is almost absolutethe broken landscape a constant background even as the inherent beauty of the natural environment offers its own deceptive juxtaposition. You can choose what to see.
The AV Club
Lee’s iconic character design and use of eye-catching color is just as good on paper as it is on screen.
Lee is a gifted artist, and Vacancy highlights her skill. [...] The strong artwork and quick story line make this slim volume best for die-hard graphic novel fans in upper elementary and middle school.
School Library Journal
Changing colors evoke mood, and tight, small panels feature fluid, moving characters, showing the influence of modern animation and a feeling similar to the work of Kazu Kibuishi. More than just a cute animal comic, this is a parable about establishing comfort zones and the dangers of breaking them.
It’s a beautiful book both in terms of its storytelling and well as its craft. Lee’s use of color is breathtaking [ ] Lee’s world-building is as dynamic a character as her anthropomorphic heroes
Fables of making it in the big, wide, dangerous world have been done before, but perhaps never so pleasing to the eye as with this short effort by Jen Lee. [ ] Lee’s art is colorful and frenetically-paneled, bringing out the desperate nature of the action scenes, and well capturing the frantic emotions of the clueless companions. [ ] Vacancy reveals the movement inherent in her work on the page.
As her first print comic, it carries the moody palette and feeling of uneasy movement of her online work.
Lee is able to still take advantage of the print format in ways that don’t work as well online. The weight of the paper, the way color is used, the page layouts it’s not just a webcomic that’s been printed, but a comic that’s been designed for print.
Lee's character design is sort of like a cuter Michael DeForge, but still containing a hint of danger and visceral animal behavior.
The narrative rides these emotional rails to great affect, and you never feel safe from this sense of restless dread that serves as VACANCY’s emotional core. [ ] VACANCY feels personal for Lee. There’s a palpable sense of anxiety here, a nervous energy that’s difficult to conceive of, let alone approximate, if you’ve never felt it yourself. [ ] there’s a deep, abiding pathos in those abstracted faces. It’s a book that is essentially about being comfortable in your own skin, and it’s about the journeys we sometimes have to go on to assume that comfort for ourselves. [ ] VACANCY is rooted in optimism. Its dystopia is one limited to the now, and it’s a story about how we learn that it doesn’t define the futureif we don’t let it.
This Is Infamous
Vacancy by Jen Lee is a dystopian story about the sometimes opposing needs for safety and companionship. [ ] Lee’s style is bold and the action leaps through the graphic frames. It speaks not just to the fears of survival but a deep fear of isolation.
The artwork is wonderful. The linework is clean and detailed and the characters designs really look like modern children with their fashion and style but they’re animals.
I applaud her for using a deer as one of the troublemakers.
[Jen Lee’s] art combines qualities that are both eerie and cute, which helps define both the uneasy & disturbing world, but also the strength of the friendships blooming amidst disaster. And that, in short, is just plain cool!
The Comic Age
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Once again, Nobrow has done the artist good by producing a wonderful and lovely little book, for an extremely reasonable price--given the production value.
All around this is fantastic, as the art is the showpiece for the start of a deeper story. VACANCY feels as if it's in the same world as THUNDERPAW but, unfortunately, doesn't have the time and space to become quite as developed as the latter. I can see how this might leave readers wanting a bit more from the world and characters, that this doesn't quite work on its own. I can agree with that argument, but at the same time, this does tell a complete story--even if it does leave you wanting more. (From what I've heard, she's working on a sequel.)
In all, this book is $5.95 or less, and it's well worth that price tag for anyone who enjoys interesting art and somber stories.
Top international reviews
Set in an eerily abandoned world and has hints of post apocalypse, while never really truly being said. It is however a short tale (due to the format of this Nobrow series), which leaves me with a hankering for more.
Hopefully Nobrow Press will continue with this artist and I'll get to see some more in printed form!
Jen lees vacancy is a slight story with nicely designed characters however the narrative spelt muddled and the panel composition made reading feel like a feat of interpretation rather than something that flowed naturally. This was a shame as the story in there is good and the artwork is cute
I'd reccomend for people who like low key stories and hipster anthropomorphic animals with hose pipes for arms.