Pawn Shop is the most unexpected comic I’ve come across so far. It’s not a tale of superheroes, it doesn’t take place in a fantasy setting, and its protagonist is neither young nor good-looking. But it hooks you in all the same.
This is the story of Harold, who has recently lost his wife of thirty-five years, Betty, and moved from New York City out to Long Island after the funeral. He’s an old man trying to put his life back together without the woman who has been the center of it for sixty-five years (it comes out that Harold waited thirty years before asking her to marry him, a lingering regret). And yet, he can’t let go of his old life with Betty. He spends most of his days wandering around the city, revisiting the places they used to go together. He’s got a few friends, he’s a nice enough guy that he makes another one as the story progresses, but you get the sense that he is just the shell of the person he used to be. By the end of this issue he’s beginning to pick up the pieces, but we don’t know how he’s going to make out. And thus ends Chapter One.
I wasn’t expecting to love Harold so much when I started this book. He really is an unlikely hero: an old man like so many you pass on the street without thinking twice. But he seems a genuinely good guy, like your favorite great-uncle, who is going through the grieving process for the love of his life. He has his good days, he has his bad days, but he’s basically alone and I desperately want for it all to work out for him and to see his loneliness eased somehow. You can relate to Howard because we all know someone like him in our lives. I’m emotionally invested in his story.
I love the world that’s been created in this comic. The panels are done in ink and watercolor in a fairly drab color palette that really gives the feeling of New York in winter (particularly the endless winter we’re still going through). It’s a little bleak aside from Harold’s red scarf, and I think it really conveys his mood. The artistic team has also created a playlist to listen to on Spotify before reading the comic, which I thought was a nice touch—it gives another layer to the story, and really got me engaged in what I was reading.
This is the third comic I’ve read this week funded through Kickstarter, and I have to say the Kickstarter backers know good work when they see it. I can’t tell you much more except to say that I loved this one, and I think you might too. 5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
Pawn Shop: Chapter One
Writer: Joey Esposito
Art & Colors: Sean Von Gorman
Letters: Adam Pruett