Author: Dave Lapp
Publication Year: 2008
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from the library at my school
From the published:
Similar in tone to the legendary comic series Duplex Planet, Lapp’s first graphic novel is a collection of stories about his work as an art teacher in an inner city Toronto youth drop-in centre. His students are full of stories which they are eager to share. These include a family who picks worms at night on their knees, Vietnamese refugees, rope-jumping girls, Venus flytraps, bullies and tamagotchis. With a warmth of line and a uniquely charming storytelling style, Lapp’s comics evoke the work of Chester Brown, and his black humour that of Joe Ollmann.
Essentially, this was more of a series of short vignettes told in comic form, than a cohesive graphic novel. But it was pretty good! The inner-city neighbourhood that was depicted in Drop-In is the area near me, where most of the kids at the school I teach at live. I’ve heard of some of the drop-in centres in the neighbourhood, though I’ve never heard of this particular one – an art program. Lapp basically shows us little snippets of the lives of these kids, both in and out of the drop-in centre.
I liked the frankness that Lapp showed in this story, and the way that he gave equal importance to the different types of stories that he saw or heard about through the kids. At times, though, it was a bit confusing, since he wouldn’t really explain much beyond the actual dialogue that’s given in the panels. That was also part of the charm, though, since it gave you the feeling of just catching a glimpse of these kids’ lives and their experience in this neighbourhood.
On the other hand, though, I’m not sure that Drop-In would be interesting or relevant to people who aren’t somehow connected to these experiences. I found them intriguing because I’ve been teaching kids from this neighbourhood, and I would imagine that other people would find them just as interesting if they also taught students from inner-city, high-risk neighbourhoods. If you aren’t interested in the social dynamics of this kind of situation, though, you probably won’t get much out of it.
There’s nothing really new here in terms of content, but definitely a unique perspective into the lives of the kids he depicts. I really enjoyed the way that Lapp composed the panels – simple drawings, but so much available to read into with the dialogue and the details.