Five Pounds & Screaming follows Ben and Eliza, a young couple trying to, and then becoming, parents for the first time. The story starts with the couple trying to conceive, through the pregnancy and up to the baby’s first birthday. And that’s pretty much it, unfortunately.
What’s missing from this story a true sense of conflict or some sort of trial Ben and Eliza need to go through and overcome. We simply watch them go through this 2-year period of their lives. While an uneventful pregnancy is the wish of every parent-to-be, it makes for an unmemorable story in this case.
Author and artist Shawn Brook Williams occasionally brings up emotionally interesting topics--a wife’s shaken self-confidence as her body is changed through the pregnancy or a father’s struggle of juggling his new responsibilities while trying to advance his career--but these topics are all brought up and wrapped up in a couple panels and a handful of speech bubbles. Instead of diving into these emotionally rich issues, the story quickly moves on to the next moment.
The art is also a barrier at times. Shawn uses a a loose and unrefined style that can lose the reader, making it tough to connect with the story and characters.
Parents (I’m one, my boy just turned 2) will see moments of their own journey reflected in Five Pounds & Screaming. There’s no doubt it was written and drawn with an incredible amount of love and as a keepsake, I can’t think of something more meaningful and heartfelt to pass along to your child. But as a graphic novel, its emotional moments are too quick and shallow and the book is bogged down by inconsequential scenes that don’t drive the story.
TL;DR: Five Pounds & Screaming is a well-intentioned, personal book that doesn’t offer enough emotional moments for the outside reader to connect with.
Five Pounds & Screaming is written, illustrated and self-published by Shawn Brook Williams. You can learn more about the graphic novel, as well as purchase it, through his website.
A review PDF of Five Pounds & Screaming was graciously provided to Spandexless by the Shawn Brook Williams. All art in this post was pulled from the review copy and belongs solely the author, Williams.
George likes to write. A lot. He's currently writing the ongoing comic series, Healed, for Homeless Comics (www.homelesscomics.com) and has contributed stories to several anthologies published by Elevator Pitch Press. He was also the creator behind the webseries 664-The Neighbor of the Beast (www.lazyhorde.com). And somehow he also juggles playing guitar in his metal and punk rock bands. By day, George is a mild-mannered copywriter in the advertising world. He once put a truck on the moon.