Little Victories: Autism Through A Father’s Eyes by Yvon Roy (graphic novel review).

‘Little Victories: Autism Through A Father’s Eyes’ is a didactic graphic novel of sorts, intended to explain the affect an autistic child has on their parents. perhaps, put more positively, how parenting an autistic child can be challenging, but still rewarding and loving. It is heavy-going, though, and not something played for laughs, despite the visual flourishes Yvon Roy uses throughout the book.

The story is straightforward, starting off with the optimism of a young man who gets a girlfriend, settles down and eventually has a baby with her. After a couple of years, it becomes apparent his son, Oliver, doesn’t behave in the same way as other children his age, not least of all because he hardly speaks. Some tests are done and the parents are told their son has autism. It isn’t long before their marriage falls apart and what follows is the story of how the father gets his life back together again, maintains good relations with his ex-wife and, most importantly of all, learns to love and understand his son in the way that he must.

As mentioned already, Yvon Roy brings neat visual tricks into the story that help to pick apart some of the more critical or amusing situations. People can sprout animal heads when they are angry and, when they’re depressed, the city skyline literally collapses as their world seems to fall apart. In this way, she justifies the use of this medium as a way of showing how people and situations can change. It’s a neat approach that generally works well and means that Yvon Roy can cover a lot of ideas much more quickly than in a more formally written essay.

The quality of the artwork is good but the pedestrian nature of the story being told: a baby is born, grows up, goes to school, etc, means there’s little here that’s visually exciting. But perhaps that’s not the point and what ‘Little Victories’ is all about is giving insight and reassurance to parents of autistic children and the other adults around them. Yvon Roy doesn’t back off from the difficult aspects of the situation: the shouting, the stress and the awkward situations.

Seeing the marriage break down so quickly is particularly painful to read and Yvon Roy twists the knife a little later when we see the mother tucked up in bed with her new partner, but the father still on his own.

Bottom line: this isn’t a book to be read for laughs, but families with autistic members will see a lot here that’s familiar and appreciate the positive story being told. Others working with autistic children, such as teachers, would doubtless learn valuable lessons from the book, too.

It’s accessible enough that teenagers would understand the book without problems and for those with autistic friends and, perhaps even those with a diagnosis themselves, might well find ‘Little Victories’ a quick primer on the condition and how it affects those around them.

Neale Monks

May 2020

(pub: Titan Comics, 2020. 152 page graphic novel softcover. Price: £17.99 (UK), $19.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-78773-230-8. also available digitally)

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