Debby runs a vintage clothing shop, while Binny has a passion for used books. After fooling around at a party, they begin dating and trying to share their lives with each other. They both see stories in their hobbies, in the ways the books and clothes they acquire were changed and used by their owners. They’re very observant of the details of their property, while not noticing the most obvious signs about each other. Their respective passions sometimes get in the way, as do the secrets they keep from each other.
In Dumped, Andi Watson ponders various questions. Is collecting a way to appreciate history and fine craftsmanship, or an escape from dealing with people? Do we own our possessions, or do they own us? Items trigger memories, but they also can become addictions, excuses to avoid troubling personal situations. Things are safe, after all; they never give you as much trouble as people do. Those who are afraid of facing themselves focus outwards instead, defining themselves by what they own. Sometimes the significant other even becomes another kind of possession.
In such a people-centered story, the look of the characters is significant. Watson’s got a great eye for the details of human interaction, and his artwork achieves a great deal with a minimum of simple lines. The images are created with a soft, crayon-like line and rich textures. The faces, especially, are interestingly shaped, with some all curves, some sharp angles, and most combinations of the two. The lack of extraneous detail allows the emotion to shine through, important for a romance, and the variety captures the diversity of humanity.
Greyscale shading gives the pages depth, while foreground items are picked out in white. It’s almost theatrical, as though a spotlight was guiding your eye, but like the best plays, it doesn’t call attention to itself. Strong emotion is shown through the opposite, dark shading showing anger or confusion or loss or regret. Watson is also tuned into current culture. His settings and characters aren’t generic. Their language, clothing, and accessories give a distinct flavor to his work.
I enjoy a good modern love story, and this book was even more entertaining to read because of its subtext, exploring the nature of collecting and ownership. The title suggests how easily both things and people become disposable in today’s world, but the strength of the characters, finding value in the discarded, gives me hope.
The main characters from his earlier Breakfast After Noon make an appearance in Dumped.