Leaving Richard’s Valley

Drawn & Quarterly. Apr. 2019. 480p. ISBN 9781770463431. $32.95. Rated: Teen+. comics/literary
Deep inside a Toronto public park lives a group of humans and animals completely dedicated to the teachings of their leader, a mysterious man named Richard who promises that his adherents will stay free of lethal toxins as long as they follow his rules. When a raccoon named Lyle gets sick and his friends—a dog, a spider, and a squirrel—defy Richard by looking outside their community for help, the creatures find themselves exiled. As their search for a new home brings them into contact with city dwellers whose lives they previously could never have imagined, the animals themselves begin to change and long for more out of life. DeForge (Brat) delivers an idiosyncratic sense of humor and keen insight into the ways that communities cohere, adapt to change, and sometimes crumble.
VERDICT Prolific and versatile, DeForge excels at combining wit and pathos, and this collection, originally serialized online, serves as a great entry point for readers interested in his body of work and is quite possibly the best he’s released to date
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