Sabrina
























Nick Drnaso's Sabrina is a 204-page graphic novel (GN) released by Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly in 2018, and is the first GN to make the prestigious Man Booker prize longlist. Sabrina is missing in Chicago, and after a few weeks her boyfriend, Teddy, goes to Colorado, where he stays with his friend Calvin, who works nights in a tech job at an Air Force base. The story focuses on Calvin and to a lesser extent Teddy, who lies around in his underwear most days, misses meals, and becomes socially detached in his grief before he finds out Sabrina was brutally murdered on camera and then full of rage afterward, and Sandra, Sabrina's sister, who also becomes withdrawn but then seeks help through a friend and group therapy.


The GN doesn't show the killing and isn't a crime or detective story; it rather focuses on the impact of the murder on the three main characters and does so in an unsentimental way that's unsettling but comes across as perfectly realistic. Many panels show computer and smartphone screens or characters looking at their screens, as conspiracy theorists and reporters and sickos write injurious and hateful things about the victim and her family and friends. Some of these are threats and, along with empty spaces in the artwork, create a sense of foreboding, as if something apocalyptic is about to happen or someone is about to get stabbed or shot. But suffering and grieving enhanced by what's written and read online is the major theme, not violence cultivated by the internet. The work does, however, paint a bleak picture of the internet as a tool for malice, including fake news and crossing privacy lines.

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