Review: FURLOUGH by Breanne Boland

There is a nervy quality to Breanne Boland’s mini-comics series, “Furlough.” All the characters seem to be hiding something from you and from themselves. Most of the action takes place at an office setting with various cubicle drones. Kate, a pretty young woman, is especially in need of that unknown something hidden beyond reach. To pretend nothing’s wrong, to dream about vague lofty goals, to put on one’s best snarky attitude, all these things just don’t seem to really help.

In Issue One, Kate is summoned into her supervisor’s office. Moira, her boss, wears a scarf and touches her face a lot, one stress induced poke at the brow, followed by a hand over the eyes as if caught in a lazy salute. She has bad news. Don’t go dreaming about buying a house, she warns. In about six months, if not sooner, the whole company will no longer exist. This news, of course, is a mixed blessing. Kate mourns the loss of a job that she has identified with too much. She also celebrates her freedom, but part of her doesn’t know how. It’s more a celebration of not caring anymore.

In Issue Two, Kate must address that missing thing in her life. For all intents and purposes, Kate is not too demanding. She prefers order in her life, or so she says. Her friends know better. If there was just some way to hook up Kate with Mr. Right-For-Now, then her friends would feel vindicated. Her friends, for that matter, are not too demanding either. A few pilfered pens from the office, and they’re good to go. No one in this group is screaming to find out the meaning of life. Even, Kate, who seems to be the least satisfied, does not appear to suffer from a significant existential crisis. What makes all this interesting is how these characters bear through the tedium. May the one with the driest wit win the most stolen office supplies! The tension builds nicely as we finally come to what Kate wants most: Ben, the hot young married guy at work.

And this brings up to the latest number, Issue Three. While her days at her job are numbered, Kate proceeds in fits and starts. Her low point is when she’s found out for passing off her primary work to an intern. She has a lame excuse for doing so but, Ellen, her supervisor, readily accepts it. From there, Kate has no way to go but up. This leaves the issue of Ben. Oh, what to do about this young heart throb amid a world of sixty-somethings? It’s fun to see what happens next. The mellow pacing and the deadpan expressions on everyone’s faces makes for excellent droll humor.

“Furlough” will grow on you and lends itself well to reading over. The characters and the plot move along in curious fashion. It is as if they are holding back from you, preferring to speak to each other in private. And there lies the charm to this series. Try as they might to hide behind pithy dialogue and coded meaning, they end up revealing themselves to you, particularly Kate. With Issue Four, the final revelations will make themselves known. It will be worth the wait.

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