Chiaroscuro: Patchwork, Book I

Created by: Troy Little

ISBN: 1600101194 (Amazon)

Pages: 234

Chiaroscuro: Patchwork, Book I

This review was originally published in November 2007.

Years ago, before there was such a thing as Homeland Security, I used to visit my local comic shop every Wednesday to pick up any new comics that might have come in. Wednesday was always important because it was new comics day, but beyond this there was a still more important reason for my punctuality. My local shop would make an effort to get interesting works by indie publishers, little heralded pieces of particular wonder and delight. But not a big effort. The store would typically get one of each of these books. So I would show up at lunch on Wednesday in order that I would be the one to scoop up all the cool books.

That was where I encountered Troy Little’s Chiaroscuro. And loved it.

Chiaroscuro by Troy Little

The only problem was that either it stopped being produced or I wasn’t getting to the store early enough. In any case, I had the first seven issues (save for #2—which I was evidently too late to get). Still, even after six years or so, the memory of the book lingered and I would very occasionally check Amazon on the off chance that somehow the series survived and would be collected for me to purchase. And lo, the fruit of my diligence has paid off at last.

Last night, I blew through the 234-page hardcover in a single sitting (it was easier maybe because I had already read half the book in its periodical form). It was worth it, but now I want more and hope I don’t have to wait another six years.

Chiaroscuro by Troy Little

Chiaroscuro tells of a young man haunted. By ghosts, by mystery, by his inability to fill a canvas. Steve is a painter—or so he says. He never actually does much to his canvas save stare at it in that understated horror that unlimited potential barters and trades in on a natural and daily basis. Along the way he hangs out with friends, gets drunk a lot, meets a girl, gets the crap kicked out of him, and mocks the artistry elite for their pretentious sanctimony.

It’s better than it sounds. A lot better. And the art is gorgeous. Little’s lines are confident and well-placed. I know my review cannot be wholly unbiased as I approached the work with that kind of sentimental taste in my mouth, the kind of experience by which Little would have to suck pretty bad for me to give him a negative review here. Still, I hope to think that I really did enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed it.

Chiaroscuro by Troy Little

I only had one quibble: the story is not complete. At least I presume it isn’t. It says “Book I” on the cover, which leads me to believe that this is merely Act I in a great story. Otherwise, I would have to reevaluate the story as some kind of experimental narrative. It would probably still succeed, but not as greatly. In any case, I can’t wait for Book 2.


Good Ok Bad features reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga, et cetera using a rare and auspicious three-star rating system. Point systems are notoriously fiddly, so here it's been pared down to three simple possibilities:

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I am Seth T. Hahne and these are my reviews.

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