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Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?
ISBN 1560972661 / 9781560972662 / 1-56097-266-1
Publisher Fantagraphics Books
List price $8.95
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Despite the popularity of the term "graphic novel" in reference to novel-length stories done in comics, comic books are not novels. Which is not to say that comics cannot have the sophistication and depth of a novel, but the best comics have qualities that separate them from straight prose. Mark Kalesniko's Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself? illustrates this difference. Much more like a tone poem than a novel, this book gracefully explores a delicate issue: a young, misunderstood boy trying to comprehend why a famous actor would kill himself. Whereas a novel might be overly expository, Pete Duel contains page after page of silent scenes of the boy, Alex Kalienka (drawn as an anthropomorphic dog in a world of humans), being humbled, humiliated, and beat up. The chapters are brutally true-to-life, Alex Kalienka is completely engaging, and the resolution--not so much uncertain as it is unspoken--is haunting. Read it and then read it again. You won't find out why Pete Duel killed himself, but you may discover something much more touching. [via]