The Safe Havens Yearbook/ $12.95 & 150 pgs., Plan 9 Pub./sold in book
stores, by mail and on the internet at www.plan9.org.
The first joyful flower of spring
struggles out of the soil only to discover it has grown at the base of a
"Geronimo!" shouts an unseen child at the top of that slide.
"Oh, crud," laments the flower.
On one level, that taste of Bill Holbrook’s The Safe Havens Yearbook
may be the perfect metaphor for working one’s way through the real public
school system in America.
other levels, however, Holbrook’s public school does not exist in the real
world. Drugs, teen pregnancy and violence cast no shadows in the halls of this
Holbrook focuses on the gentle, whimsical side of life in Safe Haven, and
that is certainly legitimate fodder for commentary.
In Holbrook’s case, a teenager’s struggles to find a niche in society
and a self identity cast long, witty, touching, funny and insightful shadows.
This cartoonist’s art perfectly sets his stage. Thick, simple linework
speaks visual volumes about this simple, straight-forward world. Neither is he a
stranger to clever, visual
sleight-of-hand to make a philosophical point:
Witness a young boy walking in a snow-globe as a huge hand picks it up
and shakes it. Now the boy walks in
snowfall and muses, "Where does all this pollen come from, anyway?"
Holbrook’s cast also includes a teacher with more piercing than the
target at an archery contest, a school mascot always in costume, and Samantha, a
girl becoming a young woman. In
fact, she and all of Holbrook’s characters visually age and grow with time.
Firmly rooted in the traditions of school and family comic strips, The
Safe Havens Yearbook has nevertheless found its own unique voice, and one that
entertains and intrigues.
Isn’t it time you enrolled?
Yearbook is highly recommended for readers of all ages. The comic strip On The Fasttrack is also produced by Holbrook.
Review by Michael Vance
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