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I'm new to graphic novels so I haven't got much of a yardstick to judge them by, but A Hell of an Innocent was a short but punchy offering. In broad terms, Ike Hopper, the lolly shop owner in Dubbo is on his deathbed and confesses to murdering Lee Duncan twenty-something years previously. Lee was the young wife of his brother Greg, who fled the scene of the crime. This confession allows Greg to return to Dubbo from his exile on a sheep station near Gundagai. 

 

The story is initially quite difficult to follow. The key to understanding it is that Ike, who narrates the story, is not seen in the visuals. At first, Ike's narration accompanies pictures of the sheriff who the reader will naturally assume to be Ike, and then accompanies Greg. Oh, and the reader will come to appreciate Lee in a different light. This initial confusion does resolve itself by the end and is likely to send the reader straight back to the beginning to resolve unanswered questions. 

 

The imagery is gorgeous. In hues of red and brown, there is a convincing representation of regional NSW and small country towns. It looks and feels authentic. And although some of the dialogue does feel a bit like the Strine is strained, overall it works. The characters feel real despite this being, essentially, a short story and the plot had a delightful twist to it. I believe this is a French/European production but I would not have known; this could easily have been authentic Australian. 

 

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