Rufus Marigold from Ross Murray started life as a web-comic before this longer form book became a reality thanks to New Zealand’s Earth’s End Publishing and then more recently via Kickstarter thanks to Honest Publishing.
It follows the life of nervous primate Rufus as he wrestles a daily flood of anxiety that teeters on the edge of overwhelming his every decision. As a result, his day-job as an office drone becomes an uphill struggle as small victories are dwarfed by the crushing doubts that seep into his very being. The cringe effect is in full force and while it’s easy to switch from laughter to concern for the central character it’s clear that he’s trying his best at every turn.
The anxiety that builds up warps the vision he has of himself and sometimes the most casual remark from a co-worker is blown out of proportion as a slight on his character but nevertheless he continues to play his part in job. Outside of the workplace unrest he embraces the escape into his own art and there’s a definite glimmer of hope that the escapism that brings at least gives him some sort of calm in his life.
Ross writes this in a way that ensures there’s an honesty to everything Rufus is going through and I’m sure there’s a scarily accurate level of connection with his plight by many readers, including myself, but that may well be one of the main gains in making this the gem that it is. The art has a defined style to it but there is something about the warm glow that it has that helps the feeling of familiarity sink in as you read it and that only adds to the fact that we’re on Rufus’ side in pretty much every up & down he sees.
The mix of hilarious, heartfelt & hurtful elements that Rufus sees in his day-to-day life brings with it a bittersweet edge that helps carry this along from the very first page and with that cringe level being turned up to 11 at just the right points it’s tough not to feel for Rufus. In fact, him being an ape adds to the idea that he’s got a sense of being different when in reality everything he is going through is relatable in a way that makes him more human than he would probably ever have imagined. The hint of success with his art is a nice touch and while the anxiety still influences that area in his life there’s no doubting that this book goes above and beyond it’s comic book purpose to draw attention to the shared anxieties we all have in common. Beautiful book in both story and words.
You can also keep track of what else they & Ross have on the go in the links below: