A man in search of redemption and what it means to be a decent man. In Pride of a Decent Man by T.J. Kirsch, Andrew Peters gets caught up in a robbery and sent to prison. He is released from prison and is trying to find a way to rebuild his life. He learns that he has a daughter who is 15-years -old. He hopes that he can have a relationship with her, but the past still haunts him. Can he overcome his demons or will they tear his life apart again?

The story flips back and forth between the past and the present. In his youth, Andrew is portrayed as being thin, with a narrow face and chin. As an adult, he becomes stocky and more muscular. We start out in the past when Andrew is a child and his father is being emotionally abusive towards him. Later on as a man in his 20s he has a job at a burger joint and a steady girlfriend. His best friend, Whitey, asks if he can go fix himself a hamburger. Whitey ends up setting the place on fire. It’s not the only time Whitey will get him into trouble. The next time lands Andrew behind bars. One of the things I wish we had seen more of was Andrew’s life in prison. I wanted to know how it affected him. Did it harden him? Did he lose hope?

When Andrew is personally narrating the story, we see lined paper appear with text. When he is a participant in the action we get the regular text bubbles. The story contains a lot of visual cues. For example, when it’s day the panels are brighter, blue skies are emphasized. When it is night, the panels are shaded darker. Kirsch likes to juxtapose two images right next to each other. In one scene, we have a young Andrew staring at the artwork. In the next panel, a just-released Andrew stares at some artwork on a wall. In the first one, he is trying to lose himself in his surroundings, looking for an escape from the pressure of his home life with his dad. In the present day, we get a sense that he is a man trying to find himself, trying to find out where it all went wrong. How can he get back to the man he would like to be?

Pride of the Decent Man goes beyond what you would expect from a typical graphic novel. I’m used to fantastical tales involving magic or a battle out in space. The story is very human and grounded in reality. It’s about regrets, trying to set things right, and second chances. Upon reaching the conclusion, I found myself caught up in the emotions and I let them sit with me for a while. I highly recommend Pride of the Decent Man as a welcome addition to your personal or public library.

Pride of the Decent Man
by T.J. Kirsch
ISBN: 9781681121208
NBM Graphic Novels, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 18+

  • Tanya

    | She/Her

    Tanya work as a librarian at a maximum security prison in Northern California. She runs a weekly book club which changes themes and genres on a quarterly basis. Her favorite book club moment was watching her book club members perform a play in front of an audience and getting a warm ovation. Tanya is a long-time lover of Manga and animes. Her favorites include anything by Clamp, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf Children, Pandora Hearts and Dawn of the Arcana. In her spare time enjoys trying out new recipes from Pinterest.

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