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‘The Realist: Plug and Play’ – Advance Graphic Novel Review

Clever adaptations and soulful expressions of life allow writer and artist Asaf Hanuka to connect with his fans – Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, publishes The Realist: Plug and Play. This is the second volume for Asaf Hanuka’s original, The Realist, as the first has earned him the 2016 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material. The award-winning style from Hanuka continues with Plug and Play, as each page resonates with his fears, hopes, imagination, and devastatingly honest autobiographical accounts.

This collection gives you intricately detailed artwork. Most of this volume includes one-page stories – each with their own titles – divided into six, nine, or ten panels per page. Others are full-page illustrations showcasing Hanuka’s sense of humor or his daily struggles with real life; his ability to transform himself or his family members into seemingly limitless number of depictions is astounding. The illustrations are thought provoking and heartfelt, as some of these daily comic strips express how difficult parenting can be as can maintaining your relationship with your spouse, and how dangerous, at times, life can be for his family living in Tel Aviv. The art keeps your attention while always seeming to change as different characters are formed and circumstances change around in his world.

Every page, every story profoundly shapes your emotional state, understanding that life can be tiresome, endless, and sometimes satisfying. The mark of a fantastic author proves how devastating a six-panel conversation between husband and wife – centered around “if I killed myself” – can be and can make us realize how often we should say to our loved ones, “I love you.” Other tales describe the inadequacies and fears associated with being an artist or parent, and how we might see ourselves in those moments. Do we hide our face in our phones? Do we listen? Perhaps we all feel at one point or another that we need to make a million copies of ourselves to complete all of the many tasks we need to get accomplished. Hanuka establishes vivid and precise storytelling, dripping with melted cartoon characters, despair, and some funny moments intertwined with his wife and two kids.

This edition will make you consider your own tendencies and question whether you’re doing enough in your own life. This graphic novel generates a gut-wrenching urge to turn page after page, with amazing artwork blended into many sad stories, with lighthearted quips to help soften the deep impact, only to keep that sometimes morose feeling one gets when dealing with the anguished drudgery of life. The magnificence of these tales, further emphasizing Hanuka’s craft, shows glimpses of who we are and what makes us happy.

The completed works of this volume have been translated from Hebrew by Yardenne Greenspan, with lettering done by Deron Bennett.

The Realist: Plug and Play is available for pre-order prior to its release to print and digital format on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.


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