The Broccoli Agenda
From Sequential Tart:
I think it was fated that I read this graphic novel. Starting sometime in October, I had become subtly bombarded with images of broccoli and handguns. Specifically, of the cover of The Broccoli Agenda. And, you know, broccoli isn't exactly a common image to be bombarded with, subtly or no.
So when I met David Yurkovich at Mid-Ohio-Con this past November, I decided to pick it up. After all, who was I to question the Karma Gods? Happily, the comic was nothing like I thought it would be. A back handed compliment? Not really. I'd expected something well written, something pleasant, perhaps, but what I'd gotten was something that was strange, bizarre, mind expanding, original ... I'm finding that the words I choose don't do it justice.
The storytelling is solid. The plot, briefly, is of a man on a quest for broccoli and vengeance, and along the way, we, the Readers, get to see his Story. Doctor Broccoli tells the story of his rise and fall to Agent Swete of the FBI. This allows Mr. Yurkovich the opportunity to frame the entire sequence as a flashback bookended between a few pages of real time events. By using the flashback method, the story becomes a first person monologue with a heavy use of captions. The story doesn't dwell too much on any particular event, preferring, instead, to give the Readers an overall sense of this man's life. The graphic novel format is perfect for this sort of storytelling device. It allows for the slow build up and steady pacing that monthly serials can't afford to experiment with.
In terms of the art, while it may be off-putting to fans of photorealistic or classic superhero styles, Mr. Yurkovich is certainly a talented artist. His use of perspective is well developed, and his characters express genuine emotion. The composition was laid out in a basic three horizontal panels per page format, which complimented the use of monologue perfectly. Mr. Yurkovich's skill at pictorial storytelling becomes evident in the selection of scenes that he chooses to represent and his layouts. The shocking discovery of Doc-Broc in the middle of the story is even highlighted by creating a full page image divided between the three horizontal panels, which allows the readers to get the full impact of the event while still maintaining the format. Plus, given the unconventional nature of the story itself, the artwork only serves to further enhance the undertones of a world of the bizarre. There's a disturbing quality to the artwork, a sense of blocky shapes and off-centered people, that goes along with the theme. I enjoyed the fact that this was an integration of art and story in the creation of the atmosphere and mood of the comic.
I realize I haven't given others much of an idea of what this book is about, and so there's very little reason why someone should pick it up merely on my say-so, but the parts that I loved best about this book are the very parts that defy written description. I wish I could say 'it's just plain good!' and have the full meaning be conveyed to others, but that doesn't seem feasible. And, yes, I fully realize that this comic isn't for everyone. It's too unique to appeal to the masses. So then, I'll just say if you're looking for something off the beaten path, if you're looking for an alternative to the regular cut-and-dry comic book stories, and if you're willing to take a chance, then give The Broccoli Agenda a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find here.
By Lee Atchison