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Hello, Again
Review by James W. Powell

Hello, Again Review Cover Image
Hello, Again

Max Estes
Max Estes

Top Shelf Productions
Softcover Original
Publish Date
March 2005
Cover Price
Max Estes proves that size doesn’t matter in his first graphic novel, Hello, Again, a small but very powerful story that reads almost like an entertaining self-help book. While Estes may not have set out to create a novel that teaches people about themselves, Hello, Again is certainly a parable that gave me a chance to reflect on my own life by presenting characters and situations I can relate to.

With the help of an imaginary visitor from his past, William, a guilt-ridden apartment manager who happens to be sleeping with his friend’s fiancée, goes on a journey to discover that the past should not effect the present, and one man’s mistakes should not keep him from fulfilling his dreams. Through the use of perfectly placed flashbacks that take us back to William’s youth, and dialog that seems to come straight from reality, Estes shows only those key moments necessary to keep the plot moving along. This allowed me to let my imagination—and my own baggage—fill in the gaps, which in turn further absorbed into the story.

Hello, Again never came across as some high-brow, stuffed shirt literary tale with the sole intent of presenting a moral. And that's good, because any entertaining read is going to suffer when it's labled in such a way. Luckily, Estes injects enough emotion — including some good humor — into the book to make it one that grabs ahold of the reader. At least it did for me.

I would’ve liked a story that took a little longer to read, but I think the pacing couldn’t have been better, so the end result is something that just felt right when it was over even though I wanted more. Because it’s a relatively quick read, I think Hello, Again might end up on my coffee table and hopefully turn into a conversation builder with me and any of my friends lucky enough to read it.

Hello, Again Review Interior ImageThe almost cartoony, exaggerated, sketchy art gives the story an almost carefree tone, but there’s also great sadness. These two seem to be at odds with one another, but it’s what gives the book a unique look. Estes's art lends a certain credibility to the story that allows it to come alive. I'll admit that if taken out of context, each panel's art might leave a little something to be desired. But as a part of a greater whole, the art proves to be a catalyst for the emotional set up.
Final Words

Hello, Again may be a quick read, but there's a lot of heart if you're willing to find it. While those who don't like to think to much when reading a good graphic novel might not enjoy this book as much as those who are willing to reflect on what they read, I think there's a little bit here for everyone.

Mildly Recommended

James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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