Brief Reviews, VOLUME 4

Brief Review: PICKET LINE by Breena Wiederhoeft [Vol. 4, #18]

A Brief Review of

Picket Line: A Graphic Novel.
Breena Wiederhoeft.
Paperback: Easel Ain’t Easy, 2011.
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Reviewed by
Chris Smith.

I don’t typically read many graphic novels, but Breena Wiederhoeft’s Picket Line came recommended by a friend and featured in the latest issue of Generate magazine.  I also was sucked in by the Northern California context in which the story unfolds, amidst environmentalists picketing the destruction of a redwood forest.  Thankfully, however, the storyline is much more complex than most graphic novels that I’ve read. There is one character who is consistently evil, the filthy rich developer who plans to raze the redwoods and build condos, but other than that the characters are more realistic, people who seemingly do both good and evil and who struggle to know how to live in our twisted world.  Those environmental activists? They were paid to picket at the entrance to the disputed land, and put on an especially good show when the media or the land’s caretaker shows up.  The caretaker? He’s trying to work within the system to subvert the landowner’s efforts to feel trees and build condos.  The main character? Well, she’s torn between the land’s caretaker, who befriends her at a lonely point in her life and gives her a job, and the environmentalists whose position begins to look sweeter as the caretaker’s diplomatic efforts to prevent lumbering and development on the land start to unravel.  The characters are what make Picket Line outstanding, well-developed and believable, they draw the reader into the story.  Wiederhoeft, who draws the delightful web comic Easel Ain’t Easy, has penned for us a fabulous and engaging story with more depth than the average graphic novel.  My only complaint is that as complex and believable as the characters and storyline are here, it all seems to wrap up a little too neatly.  I won’t spoil you with the details, but it eventually becomes clear who the good folks are and they do triumph in the end. For readers of the Englewood Review, who enjoy an occasional graphic novel, this comes highly recommended, for those who don’t, this one is exceptional enough that it might just be worth giving a shot.

Here is a fun little trailer that was made for the book.  Enjoy!

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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