“What a Crock!”

“What a Crock!” documents a few days in the life of a couple grappling with mundane issues. From the gas station to the laundry room, this enjoyable slice-of-life issue delves into the small struggles that plague us, and a few different ways of resolving them.

What a Crock! Cover
Cover by Kacee Navarro

Story: Dino Caruso
Art & Letters: Kacee Navarro
Publisher: Self-Published

“What a Crock!” deals with Guy and Sandy’s parallel stories: Sandy’s struggling with a talkative gas station attendant who’s always hitting her up for a tip, and Guy’s waging laundry war against a fellow tenant who’s far craftier than him. Throughout the issue we see Sandy mired in her frustration and unable to act, while Guy resolves to beat his head against the problem by repeatedly getting up earlier and earlier to try to outsmart his nemesis. We’re meant to view these incidents with amusement as well as a note of seriousness, because we all know how immediate these petty frustrations can feel. Caruso’s writing helps set the mood and Navarro’s command of sequential art supports this tension while adding a light, endearing quality that helps us poke fun at Guy and Sandy even as we sympathize.

What makes “What a Crock!” successful are the small touches Navarro brings to the table, like a few wordless panels of Sandy and Guy’s faces when they experience intense emotion and Navarro’s ability to make a bedroom visually compelling with texture and depth. Caruso’s dialogue is good, with a few dips into exposition here and there, but the repetition of the laughter in Guy’s story is a good device and Guy and Sandy’s rapport feels natural and lived-in, as a familiar long-term relationship should. We learn more about their personalities through how they choose to engage with the world around them than through their dialogue, and this is a critical piece of good comic storytelling that’s often sorely missing in bigger-budget books these days.

The decision to go with a grayscale palette is a good one, both for the subject matter and to streamline the work. We focus in more on Navarro’s line, and while there are improvements to be made over time, the framework is already here. Navarro knows how to frame an effective panel and cartoons well, with physical details that speak to the protagonists’ deeper characters and help liven up some familiar landscapes. Navarro’s lettering is also clean and effective, with a good stroke on the balloons and fat little tails. The font is a little generic, but it’s crisp and easy to read for the most part, and Navarro’s restrained sound effects suit the comic’s overall tone very well.

“What a Crock!” could use some tightening in a few places, but it achieves what it sets out to do: entertain and find the touching drama in the mundane. It’s an effective story rendered with a good amount of skill, and it’s pleasing to read.

The Verdict: 7.0/10 – “What a Crock!” is a delightful slice-of-life adventure that features multiple ways to resolve the frustrations of modern life.

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