THE LITTLE DEATHS OF WATSON TOWER


Writer: Nick Bryan Art: Rosie Alexander Publisher: Self-published


The Little Deaths of Watson Tower, cover, Self-published, Bryan/Alexander

WHAT IS IT?

A one-off comic that's a kind of coming-of-age tale about coping with sickness, death and loss, but also about friendship and family, and how you can't get through life without those things.

It captures that melancholy teenage vibe very well, like The Way Way Back, but is more obsessed with the concept of death than being a misanthrope.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

(Minor Spoilers)

Teens run through a tower, kind of just having fun, kind of bugging some people who live there, but really not being that much of a nuisance. They're all wearing black hoodies with skeletons on them, and so we're left wondering what the other people who live in the tower are wondering -- what's with the skull 'n' bones? Is this some weird gang or cult? A fashion statement? And who's letting kids run amok through a tower? Where are their parents?

Or maybe that's just my reaction to the slow reveal of the facts informing the story.

Anyway, things quickly go off the rails a few pages in, like, in a pretty dark, Fantasia sort of way. But what I like about what Bryan and Alexander did here is they work the one-shot comic medium in their favor. As things go sideways for our protagonist, we don't know if this macabre fantasy is actually happening, or if it's just this pretend scenario she and her friends are acting out as a coping mechanism and part of their friendship. The result is this brief-but-poignant peek into the life of a teenager struggling to cope with illness and the possibility of death and loss, and the friends who support her however she needs t