A&E

[Comics]

Refresh, Refresh

Image
Refresh, Refresh
J. Caleb Mozzocco

In 2006, Refresh, Refresh was a short prose story by Benjamin Percy, later published as the title piece in a collection of his work. It’s now a graphic novel by Danica Novgorodoff, and, somewhere in between, it was a screenplay by James Ponsoldt for an in-development movie.

The Details

Refresh, Refresh
Three stars
Danica Novgorodoff
First Second Books, $18
Amazon: Refresh, Refresh

So Novgorodoff’s adaptation is an adaptation of Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Percy’s story, but the Xerox principle of successive versions being degraded isn’t in effect here. Perhaps that’s because the visual nature of comics allows Novgorodoff to transform Percy’s 15-page story into something quite different. Her 140-page version isn’t just longer, but also more quiet and more equivocal than Percy’s, as it’s observed from a distance rather than told first-person by the protagonist. That’s Josh, a high school senior from a small Marine town, trying to figure out what to do with his life—follow his absent father into the war in Iraq, or not.

In prose, his decision was made in a handful of sentences and a metaphor or two. Here it’s made in a series of shifting, increasingly abstracted pages.

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