Review – The Can Opener’s Daughter (SelfMadeHero)

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Publisher: SelfMadeHero
Writer/Artist: Rob Davis
Release Date: 8th December 2016

Following on from the British Comic Award-winning Motherless Oven, writer and artist Rob Davis brings us the second part of his trilogy, The Can Opener’s Daughter.  Set in the same strange-yet-familiar world as the first book, a world where children build their own parents, knives fall from the sky like rain and ordinary household objects are Gods, this second volume delves a little deeper into the story of the enigmatic Vera Pike, showing us a little more of her family life and the events which led to her turning up on the doorstep of young Scarper Lee.

The first half of the book examines Vera Pike’s relationship with her mother, the Weather Clock, and her father, a literal can opener, and  sees her enrolling in St Sylvia’s School of Bleak Prospects & Suicide.  As with the first book, the themes of rebellion and self-discovery permeate this volume, with Vera’s sheltered life as the daughter of the Prime Minister of Chance prompting her to challenge the constraints of her society time and time again, with rapidly escalating results.

The latter half re-joins the continuity of the Motherless Oven, and sees Vera and Cas – and the Home Gazette – trying to save Scarper Lee from his deathday.  Once again, Davis’s storytelling is wilfully unconventional, featuring some incredibly dark themes – children working hard at school charting the ‘suicide curves’ which predict the time of their death, for example – mixed in with what is otherwise a quintessentially British coming of age story.  This second book also gives a whole new perspective to the events of the first, with more information about the relationship between Bear Park and Grave Acre being gradually revealed.

Visually, Davis delivers an angular and vaguely menacing world with a lively and expressive protagonist in Vera Pike.  His carefully shaded black and white artwork is filled with detail and sublime character design, with Vera’s jagged, menacing ‘Weather Clock’ mother serving as a definite highlight.  It’s a great looking book, albeit an unconventional one, and Davis deserves high praise for providing such an unapologetically unique aesthetic for his story.

Relentlessly creative from start to finish, The Can Opener’s Daughter is packed with seemingly absurd concepts and surreal ideologies that gradually start to make more and more sense the deeper you sink into the bizarre yet worryingly familiar world that Davis has created.  I devoured all 160 pages in a single sitting, and found myself immediately wanting to go back and read The Motherless Oven again as soon as I’d finished.  This is a book which deserves every bit of the praise it’s guaranteed to get, and serves as a fantastic example of just how creative comics can truly be.  Highest of recommendations for this one.

Rating: 5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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