Can of Worms

This story of an adopted woman’s search for her birth parents is a promising comic debut. It quietly runs the gamut from exhilaration, when a lead is found, to despair, when the search dead-ends.

Can of Worms cover
Can of Worms
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The entire book is done in black-and-white with light blue shading. Most pages are based around a four-panel grid, but the pattern is broken either to speed up or slow down time. The square-bordered panels show everyday events, while circles surround thoughts, dreams, and memories. The devices stay out of the reader’s way, although the entire package is very deliberate and step-by-step, both in the story (the search) and in the presentation (the art).

It attracted my attention because of its odd style of storytelling. A wordless narrative is interspersed with replicas of important documents, like adoption papers, birth records, and letters. Catherine’s search for her birth mother is a mundane affair, with lots of library and newspaper research, but at the same time, it’s incredibly deep and affecting. The pacing of the search conveys to the reader how much work and patience she needed to find the information she could.

The majority of the art is cartoony but detailed; everything is there that needs to be. People other than the hero are drawn in a much more detailed style, reminiscent of photo-referencing, demonstrating the artist’s skill while making them more remote. This unusual way to tell a story reads very naturally; Doherty is skilled in arranging things visually.

The story demonstrates how true relationships are two-sided. One person’s determination, no matter how strong, isn’t enough unless both parties are willing to build ties. Adoption is a hard decision to make, and it’s understandable that a given-away child wants answers.

Sample art can be seen at lambiek.net. Doherty is now known as Tucker Finn.

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One Response to “Can of Worms”

  1. serge ewenczyk Says:

    Hello,

    I just wanted to mention that the French version of Can of Worms was released in France last november. The title is “Peine Perdue”.

    Best,

    Serge Ewenczyk
    Publisher
    Editions ca et la

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