Lonely Boy – “The Ticking” by Renee French
Within the beautifully simple illustrations of Renee French’s acclaimed graphic novel, “The Ticking,” is a dark and heartbreaking story of beauty. Not traditional aspects of beauty, but instead the importance people place on it and the amazing places it can be found.
When Edison Steelhead is born, his mother dies in childbirth and he inherits his father’s deformed face. Fearing the world won’t be able to deal with his sons ugliness, his father whisks him away to a home on a small island, where Edison grows up drawing in a sketchbook. The young boy draws whatever he sees – from a scar on the side of his fathers face to a fly. For his father’s part, he tries to be a good parent, but makes his son wear a mask when visitors come, and buys a pet monkey that he eventually grows to treat with more affection than his poor strange-looking son. The Father even considers a radical operation to make his son “normal.” As soon as he’s old enough, Edison sneaks away out into the real world – and finds its not that bad. He gets an apartment and a job as a ticket vendor at a movie theater. In a heartbreaking final moment, Edison finds out that though he was estranged from his father all these years, his father was never far away. Unfortunately, his father was unable to deal with the world.
Sad stuff, right?
“The Ticking” isn’t a heartwarming book. It’s rather depressing – though as a reader you’re thrilled Edison is making his way into the world – and the ending is a serious downer. Renee French’s artwork drives the action, with simple pencil drawings reflecting the simplicity of what Edison wants – to be seen for who he is.
It’s a brave story, told by a masterful artist, and it’s over far too soon.
There’s beauty in darkness, and French understands this completely. Not everyone’s story is about love, magic, sunshine, and lollipops. Edison’s story is about being different, and wanting to accept your differences – which sometimes you can’t do unless you strike out alone.