My Own Little Empire

 MOLE   (AdHouse, 2004)

ô and © AdHouse

With every work he puts out, Mills continues to demonstrate his amazing storytelling diversity. From the story of two prison cellmates in his initial self-published comic book Cells to his more recent World War I-era graphic novel Trenches from Top Shelf, Millsí strongest skill as a writer has been his ability to script excellent character-driven stories in an amazing array of settings. This story, about a group of Maryland youths circa 1990, not only further showcases his talents, but also serves as the perfect introduction for those not familiar with Millsí work.

Why? Because, despite its topical setting, it has appeal far beyond the early-30-something audience that most likely mirrored Millsí characters nearly 15 years ago. Because what generation has never included those who hang around bored, camp out for concert tickets, or secretly long for the girl dating the biggest idiot in the neighborhood? Everyone ages, but youth is timeless, and Mills softly but directly captures this mood. And his story is punctuated by a brilliant epilogue that ironically captures a moment that no one, from Millsí generation or any other, has ever experienced.

New readers unaccustomed to Millsí minimalistic caricatures might struggle a bit, though. Mills introduces nine different main characters throughout the story, a risk under the best circumstances, and at times itís often difficult to differentiate among many of them. The struggle is worth it, but less dedicated readers may not bother.

ó Jim Johnson

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