Undertow (2009)

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My favorite thing about Undertow–not the best thing about it, but my favorite–is Lindner’s use of setting. The graphic novel is set in the fifties or sixties in Brooklyn, with jaunts out to Coney Island, but Lindner’s nostalgia is completely in check. There’s no moon eyes over the setting (which is probably why it took me a while to realize it). It’s a refreshing change; many retro books are great, but Lindner sets Undertow apart.

Identifying the best thing about Undertow is a little difficult. The two main contenders–Lindner’s dialogue and her composition–are both excellent. I think I veer more towards the dialogue because I recognized the composition earlier. The composition is intricate and utilizes the page beautifully. It’s occasionally very wowing.

But the dialogue is different. It’s simply excellent throughout, without any particular rises. During one difficult to script exchange, I noticed how Lindner’s dialogue managed to be natural but also concise, to fit the scene. At that point, I realized the entire book’s dialogue is of the same quality–I only noticed at that point because of the difficult scene.

Lindner brings the reader into the story abruptly–there are no introductions and no hints of how the story will develop. It’s not quite slice of life because there are a couple big events, but there’s nothing particularly dramatic about Undertow‘s events.

My only complaint is one badly drawn neck line. Otherwise, Lindner creates a fantastic graphic novel in Undertow.

It’s an outstanding debut.

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