The Oregonian | Steve Duin | March 17, 2010
The Oregonian declares MARKET DAY the “best graphic novel, to date, of 2010”
We barely glimpse the face of the wife, eight months pregnant, that Mendleman leaves on market day, his cart filled with rugs, his heart with dread. We never get comfortable in the "sacred space" of the homeland he abandons as he points his horse into the darkness and puts his shoulder to the wind.
And so it is that we never know how securely Mendleman is anchored as he trudges into the grim dawn of a day that will test his endurance, his faith and his soul.
Market Day -- a James Sturm epiphany from Drawn & Quarterly -- is a memorable graphic novel that follows a man down the thin line between lost and found. Mendleman is a craftsman who still believes that "something as common as a rug can indeed embody the gifts and miracles of God -- the first steps of one's child, the moment Sabbath begins ...."
"When is the precise moment of the setting sun? So I made a rug weaving together black and deep purple. When the light faded enough, and one could no longer tell the difference between the two colors, then Sabbath had begun and prayers could be made."
But on this market day, the sun seems to be setting on everything Mendleman holds holy. At A. Finkler & Sons, "a shrine to all things well made," Mr. Finkler has retired and his son-in-law, the new owner, insists the shop has all the rugs they need. When he marches an hour down the road to Suzkin's Emporium, he discovers store room upon store room of furniture and clocks and, yes, rugs, that men devoted their lives to, piled in dark, cramped corners. There is, suddenly, no market and no future for his craft and his passion. Mendleman is surrounded, instead, by the lottery ticket seller, the blind, disfigured beggars, the fortune tellers and the most sordid temptations, and there is no certainty that he can find his way home.
Sturm illuminates the rug maker's exile and his odyssey with sobering eloquence, and the detailing of the book reminds us that Drawn & Quarterly still cares about quality, even if Finkler's son-in-law doesn't. This is the best graphic novel, to date, of 2010, and Portland comics fans will have two opportunities to talk to Sturm about it: at Powell's Books on April 22 and at the Stumptown Comics Fest the following weekend.