Review: Keeping Two
by Jordan Crane. Fantagraphics, July 2022. 316 p. Ill. ISBN 9781683965183 (h/c), $29.99.
Keeping Two focuses on the tension between our internal and external lives. How do our anxieties affect our actions? How do our actions affect our anxieties? This comic captures the brain’s tendency to catastrophize, to spiral into endless worst-case scenarios and bad futures. Even though the actual beats of the core story are simple and generally domestic, the brains of the characters, Will and Connie, go on extensive adventures. Overall, the storytelling is heartfelt and moving.
This book is depicted in a green monochromatic style. The choice of green may be divisive for some readers, but others may find it enjoyable and offbeat. The drawings are clear and minimal and make the emotions of the characters feel intense and believable. The lettering is expressive and captures the tone of everyday conversation. During the story, panels in “real life” have straight borders, while panels in the characters’ imaginations have wavy borders. This is an effective choice, although first time readers may miss it at first glance. The story is not divided into chapters or sections, and the dreamlike feel of shifting between reality and the imagination makes it easy to read from beginning to end.
Keeping Two is a mature story about adult relationships. There are some minimal scenes of violence and alcohol use. It would be an excellent purchase for libraries looking for graphic novels aimed at adults. The novel is an impressive, one-person work that could also be useful for libraries that support art/graphic design/illustration programs.
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