Getting out of Hope
James Cadelli, 208 pgs, Conundrum Press, conundrumpress.com, $18
As a proud British Columbian, I was thrilled to see a familiar town as the backdrop to a comic. Sure, the book might be about people desperately trying to leave Hope, BC, but I will take what I can get! What I eventually came to discover was that James Cadelli’s Getting Out of Hope belongs to a rare family of books more delicately and beautifully crafted than its form suggests.
It’s safe to say that Getting Out of Hope is not a book that makes the best first impression. James combines an awkward illustrative style with clunky dialogue and a cast of unlikeable characters doing menial things in his earliest pages. “Yo Dean! Do you remember that Nelly Furtado song?” Leo asks his friends before singing: “I’m like a bird. I wanna fly a plane. I don’t know what the rest is.” The panel shows Leo behind a tall wooden eagle carving with his arms spread wide. If the Nelly Furtado reference is any indication of what we can expect, the book would be one tough sell. Instead, this rough introduction provides the necessary starting point for the development of some richly complex characters.
The comic features a variety of separate storylines that eventually intersect and overlap. The crown jewel of James’ comic is an especially endearing tough grandma character who crosses paths and develops a friendship with an unlikely person. Through the relationships between characters, James explores topics of loneliness, suffering, friendship, memory, understanding, and happiness. He balances the quirkiness of the art and dialogue with in-depth discussions of what it means to be isolated, to live in a small town and to be in search of ways out — whatever they may mean.
Without a doubt, James Cadelli’s Getting Out of Hope is a rare gem of a comic that should not be missed out. Hunt it down by any means possible and thank me later!