Frank McDonald is a recently retired widower who moves to a retirement community at the behest of his daughter. But he’s not happy: “The sky is always blue. The air is clean. The people are nice as hell. And there is always some nice activity planned. You don’t have to work anymore. You’re retired. So live it up at Sunset City. The streets are paved with friggin’ gold. My daughter assured me that I would learn to like it here. But after six months I’m asking the same question. Why am I here?”
Frank is consumed with sadness. Sadness at the death of his beloved wife, sadness at being pushed into retirement, sadness at being towards the end of his life. Slowly, Frank finds himself more unhappy and still more enmeshed with life in Sunset City, until a horrific event starts to push Frank out of his shell. In a moment of great drama, Frank discovers who he really is.
Sunset City is an interesting and thoughtful graphic novel. Osborne nicely conveys Frank’s boredom and self-pity. Frank is oppressed by his emotions, tangled up in his frustrations, unable or unwilling to change himself to meet his surroundings. I found myself contemplating what life would be like when (or if) I were in similar circumstances. Would I grasp for something meaningful, as Frank does, or would I be able to take a different path?
Frank’s ultimate decision is one that I find myself debating in my mind. I don’t want to reveal the key plot point, but I have to wonder if Frank does the right thing or not. He takes the step to unlock his life, but does so in an extremely unexpected way.
Osborne’s art is the only weak point of the comic for me. His cover is gorgeous, with a full palette of colors, and I can’t help but feel his interiors are missing the full color treatment. The art is also rather stiff; I kept wishing Osborne’s characters had more energy to them.
But overall this is an interesting and thoughtful graphic novel, one that brings up interesting questions for any reader.