Glenn Ganges drinks too much caffeine while reading a new library book and can’t fall asleep. Kevin Huizenga takes this simple concept and uses it for a sprawling exploration of time and the self in his new Drawn & Quarterly graphic novel, The River At Night, finding creative ways to depict mundane moments in Glenn’s present alongside essential events from his past. Huizenga’s cartooning blends the clear, concise storytelling of classic comic strips with more experimental layouts and compositions, a fusion of aesthetics that makes his artwork deeply expressive and consistently surprising. Insomnia has never been so exciting, and Huizenga embraces the medium’s unique visual properties to turn one man’s relationships with his family, friends, work, and play into a marathon of inventive sequences.
This excerpt of The River At Night, on sale tomorrow, begins with an exceptional display of how Huizenga breaks from convention to enrich the psychological storytelling. As Glenn and his wife, Wendy, wait in an airport on their way to a funeral, a potentially loaded comment from Wendy makes Glenn’s brain go into overdrive as he tries to figure out what important issue needs to be addressed. These thoughts come quickly and not fully formed, which Huizenga captures with an overflow of panels, half of which are cut off by the page border. From there, Glenn settles into a specific memory that details moments of conflict between husband and wife while also delving into the artistic process, showing how working on his wife’s comics actually changes the way he perceives the world. Wendy’s comment ends up being nothing to worry about, but the fascinating mental journey it incites highlights what makes The River At Night such an enthralling title.