Facts are that the final two installments of Forsman’s plotted-on-the-page Snake Oil didn’t do very much for me. I’ve been waiting to see what he would do next and by next I mean a million years ago when Wolf came out. It’s part of Snake Oil but doesn’t follow the same storyline. It is a character study of an oafish, empty-stared loser who works at a mall Sears in the (I’m guessing here) late 80s. What I like about this comic is that Wolf doesn’t seem to know how he went from baby to cute kid to mohawked punk to living in his grandparents’ basement with a dead-end job and no friends, but what bewilders him made abundantly clear to us through Forsman’s controlled storytelling. The pace is slow and muddy, like the pages are weighted with Wolf’s coming lost youth—a pretty kickass trick for such a short book.
Wolf’s narrative is interspersed with sketched post-its and lists, including an awesome one of band names like snake sandwich! and metal summer, that make plain both his boredom and lack of lofty aspirations. I especially like the melancholy of Wolf’s failure to receive punk rock’s promise of a better life come through in his sketches and in the detail of his patched jacket as he slumps his way through the park, back to grandma’s house.
Forsman’s thin lines give the book an airy, almost ephemeral quality, like the story could just blow away if the wind picked up. Considering that it captures a time and place that feels sluggish, this makes for an interesting juxtaposition.
Wolf is sad and lovely all at once. Read it.