Drew Hayden Taylor (adapted for the graphic novel by Alison Kooistra) tells a tale of racism, revenge and teenage frustration in his new graphic novel Night Wanderer. On a Native American Reservation, like Otter Lake, strangers rarely go unnoticed. When 16 year-old Tiffany loses her room to a renter, she is not pleased. Her mother has abandoned her and her father’s parenting style leaves much to be desired. The renter, the mysterious Pierre L’Errant is more than a bit odd. With dark sunglasses and comments about his restrictive diet, Pierre is more than quick to give Tiffany back her room and take over the basement instead. Tiffany and her father rarely see eye to eye, and after the Native American Tiffany faces the racism of her white boyfriend’s family, she breaks down and runs away. The question remains as to whether the mysterious stranger and Tiffany can help each other face their pasts and change the future.
Writer Drew Hayden Taylor has made Tiffany into a therapist’s dream. Her mother left her father for a white man, and has begun a new family. Tiffany’s father is a ball of machismo and anger. The locals are racist, untrustworthy and cruel to the Natives. When Tiffany threatens suicide at one point in the comic, I swear I wanted to give her the number for a hotline and check her father’s insurance for what mental health coverage she had. The graphic novel quickly devolves from a story of a mysterious Native American Vampire into the tale of a girl who has seen too much and is not handling it well.
Michael Wyatt’s art focuses on black and white shading, the digital style that is becoming so popular in today’s market. His characters spend most of the comic yelling at one another, leaving Wyatt with mostly angry or scared facial expressions. Wyatt uses red highlights to emphasize certain key scenes in the book as well as cover artwork. Though advertised for teenagers, and the writing style does fit that, the book feels almost too dark for a standard teenager. Those undergoing therapy for depression, abuse or anxiety might want to skip this book, as much of Tiffany’s rants will either act as a trigger or make them feel that she is just being a brat. With so many unexplored facets, Night Wanderer is something that feels more in place under a therapist’s analysis than in the hands of teenagers. Night Wanderer is available from Annick Press July 4, 2014.