Welcome back, indy comic fans!  For those not familiar with this column, it’s where I discuss, preview, and review independent comics.  That being said, I’ve been really having a blast going through my mail these last few months and picking out some hidden gems to share with all of you.  If you would like more information (or past entries), check out my original article calling for submissions here.  But enough about that.  On to the new entry!

For this edition of Independent Comic Spotlight, I’m honored to present something so wacky, so different, and so out there that most of you will probably never have heard of it before.  A Night at the Sorrento and Other Stories is a graphic novel collection (or, rather, a collection of comics) by cartoonist and writer Henry Chamberlain.  It’s all sorts of wacky and though jarring at first, it’s totally refreshing when it’s all said and done.  I have read (and re-read) it several times since receiving a copy in the mail and I can honestly say, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.  And that is a good thing.

Starting right off the bat with a three-page introductory letter from the author/artist, Chamberlain sets the tone before getting us into the five stories.  The title story, “A Night at the Sorrento” is a fun way to get us into the artists’ style and, in a sense, mind.  The stark black and white visuals take us from realistic to absurd and back and forth along quite a ride that leaves the reader pondering a multitude of things, none of which are comfortable.  Then we are taken into the story “Kill the Witch,” which I believe to be the collection’s strongest piece.  Atmospheric, moody, and altogether terrifying, this one will give horror veterans nightmares.  This story expertly accomplishes what many cartoonists and comic book writers and artists spend their entire careers trying to do: actually scare its readers.  “Bear Karma” walks the fine line between preachy and thought-provoking, showing us a brand new way of looking at the world and nature itself.  “The Dog Who Would Be King” is a piece that requires multiple reads and is a genuine delight to discuss with other readers.  I might even use this one in a future classroom of mine, if time permits and the students are willing to go there with me.  And finally “Alice in New York” sort of brings everything together thematically, delivering on the promise of the dedication at the beginning of the anthology, which reads “Dedicated to the White Rabbit in all of us.”

Night at the Sorrento Interior

All in all, it was a fun read and well-worth the $20 cover price.  If you are interested in checking out this collection or any of the other works of Henry Chamberlain, visit him at comicsgrinder.com to get more.  If you’re looking for something different, fun, and challenging, he’s your guy.

My Rating: 4/5