The End of the World

Random. Oct. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781984855350. $36; ebk. ISBN 9781984855367. Rated: Teen+. literary
Finally back in print after a limited edition release in 2013, two-time Academy Award–nominated filmmaker and animator Hertzfeldt’s debut opens with a series of seemingly disconnected single-panel cartoons depicting occasionally mundane, often absurd or even horrifying scenes of characters caught up in a world gone awry. A supermarket runs out of all but apple-shaped scented candles. A woman forgets the word for meteor. Another woman’s hair is sentient, and plotting against her. Elsewhere, dead livestock hangs from power lines. Eventually, a narrative begins to emerge. Some sort of disaster has taken place, devastating the world’s population. The survivors make stacks of the dead and fret over a wounded dragonfly crawling along the ground. Don’t get too comfortable; within a few pages the narrative shifts to a flashback about a cloned boy growing up on display in the Museum of Modern Art before returning to the present to deal with the problem of a local factory carelessly discarding mangled elephant carcasses. Hertzfeldt’s illustrations manage to be visually arresting though his characters are all portrayed as crude stick figures.
VERDICT An idiosyncratic and strangely poignant marvel from a true visionary

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