The thing about a graphic novel, actually the thing about a good graphic novel is that you can go back to it again and again. The House that Groaned by Karrie Fransman is one such graphic novel. It would have to be one of its kind –a literary graphic novel (If I can say so), that may be will find it difficult to find an audience for itself but eventually it will and people will enjoy what they will read.
The House that Groaned is about the lives of six people living in a nondescript, old Victorian house on a place called Rottin Road (presumably in England). One is a cosmetic saleswoman who has just moved in, one is a man who loves women who are diseased or disfigured, one is a hedonist, one is a diet consultant, one is a homebody, and the last one is someone who touches up photos of models.
Barbara moves in to 141 Rottin Road, and meets the other residents (well some of them) and there begins this story of the residents’ lives and its living in Rottin Road.
This is the so-called motley bunch of characters in this book. Karrie Fransman’s story is of odd-ball characters trying to live day by day and making sense of the madness that surrounds them and within them sometimes. Karrie also tells the reader something about the past of these characters and how they came to be in such a situation and what led to their oddities.
Fransman gives the characters doll-like faces and yet is able to tell her story with precise emotions and grounded realities. Fransman’s drawings set the story apart from the very beginning. She is clever with the artwork, the layering and ensuring how the scenes play themselves out originally and without giving away too much.
The book is challenging as well to read, considering the flashback aspects sometimes. The cover of the book is brilliant with the front page opening like nine windows to the apartments, giving the reader a sneak peek into every apartment before the story is told. Karrie has written a unique graphic novel and I would recommend it to all lovers of graphic fiction. It is interestingly told and catches your attention from the first page on.