Heart-Shaped Hole Review

Posted April 8, 2015 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written By: Dean Haspiel

Art By: Dean Haspiel

Published By: Hang Dai Editions

I’ve read through Heart-Shaped Hole three times now, and I’m still not sure I really get what’s going on. I understand that it’s a series of short stories in comic form, the longest one being ten pages and the shortest being but one, and I understand that love is the driving force behind every story, but I still don’t GET it.

Billy Dogma and Jane Legit quarrel for a bit and then have makeup sex; Billy does a good deed for Jane and then they have sex; Jane does a good deed for Billy and then they have sex; some other stuff happens and then sex is implied.

All in all, that isn’t much of an ending, let alone one to be repeated over and over.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that there’s more going on underneath the surface, and each time I read the comic, I found something new to think about. That’s great! I truly appreciate the sociological criticisms found throughout the little stories here, but all of the literary techniques in the world don’t make up for an unsatisfying ending.

Billy and Jane get into a spat, and ten pages later, Billy apologizes and we move onto the next story. There’s no real substance there, no matter how much you try to shove into the background. A story has to rely on its story to be of worth first and foremost; the message behind the words comes second. It is possible that the mundane solution is the point, but we don’t read books, watch movies, or play video games to experience mundane solutions. We live life for that.

Yet, I can’t help but feel like I’m truly missing something important, some cornerstone thing that makes Heart-Shaped Hole endearing or amusing or captivating. It’s possible that Dean Haspiel is simply too in how own head here, and it’s equally possible that I’m a moron.

I will say that, from a presentation standpoint, Heart-Shaped Hole is pretty rad. The whole thing feels like Sin City, both in art style and writing. Like its dark counterpart, Heart-Shaped Hole only uses a few colors for its stories; though unlike Sin City, Heart-Shaped Hole chooses bright colors. The first ten pages are nothing but red and white with black outlines. The next story replaces the cheery red color with yellow. The whole thing looks cool, and it all fits the character designs really well.

Likewise, the writing has a certain Sin City vibe to it, describing a bar as, “Tumescent titans assemble in the last bar at the end of the world for social ambrosia while scribbling dirty doodles on the wall.” I can easily hear Mickey Rourke saying that sentence, and almost all of the other ones in the comic.

I really want to like Heart-Shaped Hole, and I do appreciate its style and charm, but I just can’t get over its strange storytelling and quick endings. I feel like these characters could truly work if they were given more than ten pages to tell a story, but as it stands, this little collection of shorts just doesn’t do it for me.

Your mileage may vary.

About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.