Comic Review: Heck

Hardcover | Kindle Edition
Written and Illustrated by Zander Cannon
Top Shelf Productions
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Cover Price: $19.95

How do you take advantage of a doorway to Hell underneath your home? In Heck, a graphic novel from creator Zander Cannon and Top Shelf Productions, two men will come face to face with such a decision; but the results will be dangerous as heck.

Hector “Heck” Hammarskjöld was the captain of the football team in high school and an all-around popular guy; people looked up to him and he knew it. Now, Heck feels like a washed up small-town hero with those around him still praising him for his glory days. When his father passes away, Heck inherits his old man’s home. While cleaning it out with Elliot — a “nerd” who has admired Heck since high school — they stumble upon a secret that will forever change their lives: the house rests above a gateway to Hell.

Five years later, Heck and Elliot have turned the old house into an inheritance consultant business, using Hell and its inhabitants as a means of receiving closure for their clients. When Amy, a love interest for Heck, seeks their help in gaining answers from her recently deceased husband, Heck and Elliot venture into the depths of the underworld to find him. As the two trek through the various sections of Hell like so many times before, things quickly take a turn for the worse as this becomes one trip that effects Heck in a heck of a personal way.

Cannon, who is both writer and illustrator on this adventure, has developed an epic tale dealing with the complexity of the human soul — and he doesn’t miss a beat. In Heck, the titular character comes up against a slew of emotions including grief, depression, love and regret. What Cannon does so seamlessly, is to gradually force the entire story’s cast to dig deep within themselves — or in this case, the pit of Hell — to find out what is of real importance.

Scaling down to a simple, black and white comic strip style, Cannon does an excellent job allowing the readers to identify with the unique, caricature-esque faces. The book is filled with pronounced and emphatic facial expressions, drawing the eye up close and then pulling away with occasional, carefully placed wide shots. I was impressed with how much Cannon was able to convey in his art with generally simple, flat lines — especially on the zoom shots.

Before even reading the synopsis of this book, I was sold based solely on the name — Heck — I mean, come on! It just sounds so cool. After reading the entirety of the graphic novel, I am itching for a new story from Zander Cannon. This book continually made me stop and think about its themes and their relation to reality, which is something that I can’t say of too many graphic novels. If you don’t believe me, then heck, just buy a copy of Heck and read it for yourself.

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