Best Local Cartoonist - 2013
Matt Bryan, Book of Da
There have been and will be many locally made, self-published comics in St. Louis, but it's impossible to understate the achievement of Matt Bryan and Mike McCubbins' Book of Da. Superfunded on Kickstarter (they raised more than five times their target of $3,000), Book of Da comes in gorgeous hardcover and clocks in at 148 pages — many of them wordless. Bryan's high-contrast art carries the narrative burden for huge chunks of the book, as a silent deep-sea diver plods across the ocean floor with only his helmet lamp slicing through the encroaching darkness. He goes in search of the being that controls the ocean and all life in it, and he finds it. This is truly a graphic novel; Bryan's use of negative space, his heavy black inks and his nimble layouts drag you through the story with the inevitability of a fable. Book of Da rewards the frequent reader, as its inky depths continually yield new secrets of this aquatic underworld. It is a magical realm you'll find yourself visiting often, with increasing delight.