Stark Reality is a one shot bordering walking the edges of clarity and incomprehension. While reading this book, one is never sure where the author wants to take the reader or if this isn’t the case of a story within a story that we are witnessing. First published in 1996, many topics covered in this book are as relevant today as they were nearly a decade ago.
There is a sense that Chappell started a story and midway veered in another direction. I wouldn’t say that the plot itself changed. Rather, I think his intents for this book changed. Chappell went from a comic book creator to a political cartoonist within the pages of his story. Grabbing hold of anything consistent in this book is difficult, but when shutting the final page, it seems that creator as travelled as much as the reader.
For the artwork, one can notice the same progression. Trying with a realist linear tone that he could not master, the artist’s most effective pages are those that closely mimic a political newspaper comic strip. Just as it is when he tells a story, pages with the simplified artwork are more focused and evocative of Chappell’s strength than when he tries to be profound.