By Dustin Cabeal
Having read a great deal of biographical and autobiographical comics this week has been interesting. I’ve gotten to see what works and didn't and it is a delicate tight rope to walk. An Introduction to Alcohol is a collection of stories from 30 Miles of Crazy! It’s autobiographical and written and drawn by Karl Christian Krumpholz. It’s also from my home state so shout out to Colorado.
The story begins with the death of Karl’s dad. He’s an adult, back for the funeral and processing everything. From that comes stories about his dad that all involve drinking. He’s telling them to his significant other at a bar. While the story doesn’t acknowledge the irony of this, it’s clear in the presentation that Krumpholz understands it and has chosen this presentation intentionally.
The short stories range from just right to maybe we could have used more. That is to say that a few of them have solid pacing and there’s a complete short story there, while others were too short or lacked substance. It’s strange because in the story the adult Krumpholz is still clearly not a fan of his father’s, and yet he’s able to present his father in a different light. One that understands his father a bit better. Unfortunately, all the stories have a similar vibe and feel to them. There is one that is particularly heartbreaking, but it comes to little too late in the story.
The dialogue is the only other thing that struggles; often its exposition from two characters telling the reader everything they need to know going into a story. While it’s effective and clearly Krumpholz is working with restraints we’re unaware of, it still reads like exposition. That and at times there tends to be extra details that seem irrelevant to the story we’re reading.
The artwork is very stylized and works for the story. The line work is thick and hectic which plays to the strength of the subject matter. Much like the story pacing though, there are times when certain panels are given too much room and others not nearly enough. The balance isn’t quite there, and even on the heartbreaking story, the art could have been stronger to support the story and elevate it more.
It’s a quick and entertaining read. It’s one that I’m sure a lot of people will relate to in varying degrees; I know I did. It’s just not quite tight enough of a story and journey to be amazing, but I’m happy to have read it and look forward to what else Krumpholz releases.
An Introduction to Alcohol
Creator: Karl Christian Krumpholz
Publisher: Tinto Press/30 Miles of Crazy