Stiches was part of my looking at the library shelves and coming home with three books. I lied when I had said I narrowed down the books from five, it was narrowed it down from seven. I had my eye on Watchmen and V is for Vendetta as well but when I saw a book by David Small (an illustrator I knew from children’s books) I figured, let’s go with that instead. Plus, the odd shape and the crazy zombies on the front just “spoke” to me.
I am glad that I found Stiches now and not ten years ago when it was first published. I would not have appreciated it as much I am sure. This is the Hey Kiddo of 10 years ago. People might think raw and gritty, intense picture of the times we grew up in is new, but it is not. These unhappy people are people from anytime, anyplace, anywhere. They are beyond colorful. There is out of wedlock pregnancies, unhappy marriages, mental issues, physical issues, bullies and more. Small just uses his talents as an illustrator to make a graphic novel come to life.
Small’s family thought they were doing the best they could for him. Yet, their selfishness most likely caused his anxieties and even, his cancer at age 14. As a child, Small’s health issues were thought to be solved if enough X-rays were taken. This, and the fact that a growth on his neck at aged 11 was never properly taken care of, made his cancer even more horrific.
With the understanding of an adult, Small takes us down (sometimes feeling literal to him) a rabbit hole of his childhood. His sensitivity, the crazy relatives, the health and secrets of his mother, even at the end, an afterwards that tells a bit about his mother, father and brother, paints a life of a young man that somehow survived.
The art of Small is there, his style, but it is less polished in many ways. And this just adds to the overall intenseness of the world Small is from.