This guy has the chops and in this premiere issue of Pope Hats smoothly manages to pull off some nice slice of life comics about twenty-somethings with an easy naturalism and quiet verisimilitude that make him an obvious choice to nominate as a potential successor the Adrian Tomine. This comic is a nice, professionally printed comic, complete with full color cardstock cover, made possible by Mr. Rilly's receipt of a Xeric grant. We think you should check this one out.
We at Copacetic do indeed generally embrace the old adage that "you can't rush quality." Following at least two years after the first issue, Ethan Rilly certainly can't be accused of rushing to get this second issue of his series onto store racks , but it's so good we sort of wish – against our better judgement – that he'd, if not rush exactly, perhaps then devote a little more time to it, so we won't have to wait three years for the next issue. It's no coincidence that we've listed Pope Hats immediately below Optic Nerve. Rilly's strong delineation of character and setting puts us in mind of Tomine, and, certainly, puts him in the lineage that begins with the Hernandez brothers, and flows through Clowes. One thing that links all these creators is that they are highly skilled artists who produce organically rich characters that the reader trusts and believes in; and this takes time. OUT OF PRINT!
Wow! Ethan Rilly just keeps getting better. Anyone interested in deftly delineated character driven narratives in the tradition founded by Xaime and Beto Hernandez needs to be aware of this series. Rilly is a relative youngster and his work – set in what we are assuming is Toronto (Rilly is a native), but could be Seattle, or any other major north American metropolis, for that matter – is closer in register to the work of Adrian Tomine, as it is largely set in a world of office towers and upward striving. Anyone unfamiliar with this series can get some idea of what's in store by checking out the short 2010 piece, "Ex Montreal", hosted in its entirety on Rilly's site, here. Each issue of Pope Hats proceeds from the previous issue, but can be enjoyed on its own. This is a good thing in more ways than one: as the series has been clocking in at a rate of less than one issue per year, it's difficult to remember all that has come before; but you can't rush quality, and we're glad to wait for something as good as this.
Pope Hats #4 is a wow; different from the previous issue in almost every way. This issue is oversize, full color (as well as monochrome) and filled with short stories rather than the ongoing saga of Frances and Vickie, which will resume next issue (yeah, it's going to be awhile...). The deft characterization that we have come to associate with Rilly's work is here in spades. Every story here is worthy of your attention, but the real standout is the centerpiece of the book, the harrowing tale of "The Nest." A subtle yet devestating tale of urban alienation, mental illness, hope, despair, confusion, doubt and faith that centers on parenting and delivers insights one would not think possible in a creator of so few years. All in a beautifully designed package of the kind you've come to expect from AdHouse Books.