4 out of 5
The full-length evolution of the horror-lite common-man comedy of Patrick Dean’s shorter Big Deal Comics, tracking an eventful week off from work for lead Eddie Lubomir.
Dean’s droll but hilarious humor stylings are apparent from the start: Eddie is figuring what to do with 5 days + 2 weekends all to himself, when there’s a knock at his door and the SAHWP people – the Stay At Home Warden Project – are installing a prison cell and an accompanying prisoner in the the corner of Eddie’s apartment. Because, remember, you signed this agreement thing? And just give him a book to read and some food and you’ll be fine. Eddie is flustered by this, but not so much because the idea is ridiculous – more just that it’s happening during his week off. This is the mode in which Dean operates: insane things happen, and are acknowledged as insane, but also subsumed into normality within the same sentence. Along with this, the world of Eddie’s Week just casually has vampires and witches and whatnot hanging around, creating an amusingly blurry line between reality and fiction that makes some of the flirtations with the former – Eddie’s attempts at dating; drifting thoughts of his ex-girlfriend – hit with extra human resonance, juxtaposed against the oddities of the premise, and those occasional supernatural details.
Dean’s ink-heavy, loose style is very emotive; he has a great feeling for the amount of detail necessary to create space and mood, without interfering with the loose-ish flow of the pacing or the joke timing, and also ends up being a perfect balance for the undersized printing (6″ x 9″) by Birdcage Bottom Books. Similarly, the narrative, while having something of an improv, riffing vibe, still has a clear trajectory, structured by the days of the passing week: Eddie’s prisoner (Randall) “escapes,” and Eddie juggles his dating prospects with pressure from the SAHWP people to track down his assigned inmate. The combination of these two is where Dean fudges the story a bit, having Eddie go out of his way to hide his role as an impromptu warden from the girl he’s crushing on, and it never quite becomes clear why this runaround is necessary, but it does build up, firstly, to a very humorous piling-on of lies, and secondly, to a rewardingly humbling and human moment toward the end.
Outside of the actual content, we’re backed up by impactful afterword from Dean: he received a literal death sentence when diagnosed with ALS, making Eddie’s Week his final work. Perhaps we can be inured to reading such accounts after the fact, but seeing this direct account from the creator, acknowledging his mortality, is quite affecting. Although, and I hope this doesn’t cheapen it, it somewhat underlines some of the themes that I felt ran through Dean’s work – a sort of aw shucks acceptance of the misfortunes and unexplainables the world throws our way. I’d had the chance to correspond super briefly with Dean when trying to hunt down some of his other works; I’m selfishly super bummed that I won’t get to see anything past Eddie’s Week, but it’s also a fantastic book to act as – as he puts in the afterword – his swan song.