Cannonball
Kelsey Wroten’s Cannonball fires the reader straight into the messy life of Caroline Bertram: aspiring writer, queer, art school graduate, near alcoholic, and self proclaimed tortured genius. Wroten tells the story of an artist struggling with the arrival of adulthood and the Sisyphean task of artistic fulfillment. Stunningly drawn in a classic style, with big truths and biting wit, Wroten’s debut graphic novel is Art School Confidential for the Tumblr generation.

Cannonball Details

TitleCannonball
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 23rd, 2019
PublisherUncivilized Books
ISBN-139781941250334
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Comics, Graphic Novels, Fiction, Graphic Novels Comics, Art, GLBT, Queer, LGBT

Cannonball Review

  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    “I have a sort of axe to grind with representation. I won’t write a comic without queer characters. After I began living on my own, I found a group of other lesbian and queer-identifying people who became a second family to me. When I needed help with life, those were the people I went to”--Kelsey Wroten in interview with VICEKelsey Wroten’s graphic novel Cannonball is an at turns exhilarating and exasperating depiction of Caroline Bertram, a queer art school graduate in her early twenties who b “I have a sort of axe to grind with representation. I won’t write a comic without queer characters. After I began living on my own, I found a group of other lesbian and queer-identifying people who became a second family to me. When I needed help with life, those were the people I went to”--Kelsey Wroten in interview with VICEKelsey Wroten’s graphic novel Cannonball is an at turns exhilarating and exasperating depiction of Caroline Bertram, a queer art school graduate in her early twenties who both wants to be loved and wants to be let alone. She both wants and loathes fame. She's both arrogant and self-loathing. She hates and castigates basically everything in her little Tazmanian Devil path. Her particular queer millennial malaise feels both quite now and also timelessly, irritatingly slacker for any age. And I could not put it down for some reason.Let’s see if I can get at why, since I am not remotely in the target audience for this book, and I am not yet convincing you to read it. Caroline’s post-school fiction-writing is kind of stalled, and she spends most of her time not supporting herself, Wanting to Be An Artist, hanging out with her one (astute) friend, drinking heavily, berating almost everyone and anything she meets. Does this sound at all inviting to you yet? Okay, let me try again.Caroline, who is consistently self-destructive, is really into a female wrestler named Cannonball. She is herself at times Cannonball, as in blasting into everything, fired from a cannon. She’s writing a YA novel which seems to reflect some of her own angst and still youthful (but no longer really innocent) yearnings. We jump as things proceed from Cannonball to sc fi YA novel to her own life and the connections between these things begin to help us understand her, but we don't like her much. The self-destructive path continues its downward spiral as inexplicably, Caroline receives a major YA award for the book she publishes, which pushes her over the edge, instead of soothing her anxieties and self-loathing. Success actually makes things much worse, which makes one dimension of this work a commentary on fame, I guess. The character who stands for us is her friend who tells her exactly what she needs to hear. That’s where we find the exhilaration, ironically, in the art school crowd, in what I gradually come to see as spot-on, articulately (and I guess I have to name the tone, finally) satirical dialogue. Yep, I have to read this as a kind of dark satire in places. Art School Confidential. A touch of Whit Stillman (Metropolitan) social criticism but with the gloves off, with breakdown rage against—what?—everything. This is not a book to necessarily “like” because most people (unless they are self-important young artists or those who loathe them) will not “love” this world, but it is one to admire for capturing a particular zeitgeist (do people still use this word?!). It’s a pretty long and substantial book, and I recommend maybe especially twenty-somethings checking it out. I'd like to group it with other slacker twenties books/series like Giant Days (okay, this is still in uni), Simon Hanselman's Megg, Mogg and Owl series, Scott Pilgrim. Or all the I Hate Art School comics books.This is a review with a ten page excerpt, if you want to check it out:https://themillions.com/2019/04/panel....
    more
  • Jayden
    January 1, 1970
    I gave this an extra star because I loved the artwork, but as much as I wanted to like the story, I just couldn't. The protagonist is simply unlikeable. She is selfish, egotistical, and takes her anger out on others and does not seem to make any sort of progress at all throughout the story. To the author's credit, I get that this is the point of the "tortured artist" character, and the character herself is constantly struggling with her self-image, part of her does know she is an asshole. For me I gave this an extra star because I loved the artwork, but as much as I wanted to like the story, I just couldn't. The protagonist is simply unlikeable. She is selfish, egotistical, and takes her anger out on others and does not seem to make any sort of progress at all throughout the story. To the author's credit, I get that this is the point of the "tortured artist" character, and the character herself is constantly struggling with her self-image, part of her does know she is an asshole. For me though, it did not make for an enjoyable read.That being said I would love to see more from Kelsey Wroten, she is inarguably a great writer capable of writing complex (and queer!) characters, I myself was just unable to empathize with Caroline.
    more
  • Katie Richards
    January 1, 1970
    If you suffer from imposter syndrome, this book will resonate with you but not provide any solution or uplifting resolution. The takeaway, I've found, is alcoholism is not a viable solution (duh), depression and anxiety can sometimes behave as vices of self-absorption, celebrating your success and that of others is a much happier and positive way to conduct your life, justifying your own self-hatred and shoving it down others' throats so that they "understand you" is divisive and self-indulgent, If you suffer from imposter syndrome, this book will resonate with you but not provide any solution or uplifting resolution. The takeaway, I've found, is alcoholism is not a viable solution (duh), depression and anxiety can sometimes behave as vices of self-absorption, celebrating your success and that of others is a much happier and positive way to conduct your life, justifying your own self-hatred and shoving it down others' throats so that they "understand you" is divisive and self-indulgent, and self-destruction in the name of "art" is overdone and lame - we all need to get over this tired trope. All that being said, I'm excited to read other works by Kelsey Wroten. I like her artistic style, the depiction of Caroline's inner turmoil, and decision to let the reader sit with a sour ending in congruence with the protagonist herself.
    more
  • flannery
    January 1, 1970
    Kelsey's style seems so quick & loose & FUN to READ, it belies all the hard work that surely went into making such a dense & deeply considered comic. This is an extremely well written, almost novelistic comic that still excels at what comics can do and novels can't: wordlessly track afternoon light through the windowpane, seamlessly go in and out of fantasy & fiction. And still it is almost photorealistic when a character opines on Sheryl Crow... her attention to detail shines in Kelsey's style seems so quick & loose & FUN to READ, it belies all the hard work that surely went into making such a dense & deeply considered comic. This is an extremely well written, almost novelistic comic that still excels at what comics can do and novels can't: wordlessly track afternoon light through the windowpane, seamlessly go in and out of fantasy & fiction. And still it is almost photorealistic when a character opines on Sheryl Crow... her attention to detail shines in every gesture, every sideways mouth, hair flip, lusty lip sucking, etc. Truly excellent!!! Funny AND sad!
    more
  • book rat
    January 1, 1970
    I initially gave this four stars, but I can't get it out of my head so I'm bumping it up.I thought this book was going to be about Being An Artist. Like, what your life looks like after college when you're adrift, trying to create something other people want to pay you for. You know -- the misery and the ecstasy etc. And it is about that. It's just also about what happens when you create art other people want to buy, and you've proven everyone who ever told you to grow up and get a job wrong. Th I initially gave this four stars, but I can't get it out of my head so I'm bumping it up.I thought this book was going to be about Being An Artist. Like, what your life looks like after college when you're adrift, trying to create something other people want to pay you for. You know -- the misery and the ecstasy etc. And it is about that. It's just also about what happens when you create art other people want to buy, and you've proven everyone who ever told you to grow up and get a job wrong. This book presents an artist and you think you understand her. You think, okay, she's sort of spoiled, she's self-centered and self-aggrandizing and she really wants to be a tortured genius. I cringed, and I related. And then, over the course of the book you realize shit, she might actually be. This might be what a genius looks like. Yikes.
    more
  • Kaylie
    January 1, 1970
    Perfectly captures the adrift, unfulfilling disaster of queer malaise. And poses an answer to the self-important “tigers don’t breed in captivity” tortured whiteboy artist trope, with just enough self-awareness to be deadly. funny and deeply relatable.
    more
  • Cy
    January 1, 1970
    messy (in a good way) and relatable (though u hate to admit it)
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    Upsettingly relatable.
  • Torina
    January 1, 1970
    DNF. I loved the premise and the artwork was great but the characters were totally unlikable.
  • Mary Shyne
    January 1, 1970
    Everything I needed and so much more.
Write a review