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‘Collateral – Dear John:’ – Comic Book Review

Collateral – Dear John is a digital comic created by Australians Matthew Nicholls and Lee Taylor following the lives of the Reid family, ordinary people struggling to survive in a world where superheroes actually exist. While the comic features superheroes, it is not a superhero comic; Nicholls and Taylor have chosen to focus on how average individuals cope with the destruction and chaos created by extraordinary conflicts. They write about everyday concerns such as unemployment, the safety of our children, the harshness of gossip, and the difficulties of adjusting as our children become adults with their own interests and lives.

Quick summary of Issues #1-3: In a world where government infomercials warn ordinary citizens to avoid superheroes’ massive fights, where do the non-super fit in? When John Reid loses another job to superhero destruction, he is lost and disheartened, feeling he has somehow failed his family. His wife Mary and three sons, James, Scott, and Timmy, struggle to maintain domestic harmony, but they are all just trying to survive in a society where the only reward for being “normal” is not being taken from your home for government training.  Is it worth it to be “protected” by beings that don’t really care about you? How much collateral damage can one family sustain?

I had no idea what to expect going into Collateral – Dear John.  The simple, yet universally accessible, story charmed me, and I eagerly clicked from page to page to learn more about the Reids and the world around them. I especially identified with Mary, the mother in the Reid family, with her worries about her three sons and her husband’s worries about unemployment. It is not an action packed plot; the first three issues focus primarily on John’s disconnection from his family while atrocities continue outside their home; however, it has a lot of heart and resonates in an emotionally satisfying way.

The artwork in Collateral – Dear John is not as technically precise as many works but somehow fits the unraveling society in ‘Vacant City’ perfectly. Lee Taylor’s sketches of the ravished cityscapes are sparse, yet evocative.  He also does a wonderful job imbuing eyes with emotion, and I was drawn to the faces in all panels with close ups. The background texture appears deliberately distressed, and it almost looks like homemade paper. I am not enough of an expert to tell if the effect was a digital texture or if the original sketches were actually drawn on rough paper, but I was impressed at how the background paper tied the entire piece together. He also knows the dramatic effect of splashes of red in an otherwise black, white, and sepia toned work and uses it to great effect in several places.

Overall, Collateral – Dear John was a work that touched me in a meaningful way, but it may not be for everyone; however, if you enjoy slower-paced works that focus on the human aspect rather than just action and conflict, I highly recommend that you give it a try. I look forward to seeing how the later issues develop.

4 Job Sections from the Daily Paper out of 5

Collateral – Dear John is available at


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