Tipping Point coverThe Tipping Point
By Various Artists
130 8x11-inch pages, color

The tipping point, by custom, is that instant in the evolution of events that leads to a new and irreversible development. “That key moment,” saith this book’s back cover, “when a clear-cut split occurs, a mutation, a personal revolt, or a large-scale revolution tips us from one world to another, from one life to an entirely new one.”

The volume offers thirteen tipping point stories by thirteen cartoonists of different nationalities: Taiyo Matsumoto, Emmanuel Lepage, Atsushi Kaneko, John Cassaday, Eddie Campbell, Naoki Ukrasawa, Bob Fingerman, Boulet, Paul Pope, Bastien Vilves, Keiichi Koike, Frederik Peeters, and Katsuya Terada. Finding the tipping point in each story is more of a parlor game than literary analysis.

Campbell’s autobiographical story, “Cul de Sac,” starts with him unpacking boxes as he moves into a new apartment. His cat has run off, and he spends time looking for the beast, wandering through and describing the new neighborhood. It concludes with his dreaming of a personage with the head of his cat. In the last picture, Campbell is seated at a table, eating his dinner. I don’t see a tipping point in that sequence. Maybe it’s when he apparently gives up looking for his cat. Or maybe it’s when he moves in.

In Paul Pope’s “Consort to the Destroyer,” a man, a vicious pirate by the look of him, and a beautiful nearly naked woman, his prisoner, chained to him, are on an open boat at sea, survivors of ship that sank destroyed by fire. The boat is stalked by a shark. The pirate tugs on the chain, demanding that the woman come to him. She does, en route grabbing a knife stuck in the plank of the pirate’s seat. She stabs him to death and jumps overboard, where the shark approaches. Repeating some of the same dialogue of the previous sequence, she stabs the shark and kills it. Then she swims to an island where there are some deserted buildings but no people. The tipping point may be when the pirate tugs on the chain.

Cassaday explores Huck Finn’s decision not to turn Jim in to the slave-hunting authorities, one of literature’s famous tipping points. The decision bonds the two for the rest of Mark Twain’s book. Lepage’s “The Awakening” records a youth’s realization that he is gay. Fingerman’s “Unbeliever” meets God, who turns out to be a hoax. In Boulet’s equally comical “I Want to Believe,” the cartoonist is scornful of people who believe what they find on the Internet—until he experiences all sorts of encounters with Internet phenomenon (a lizard person, men in black, the white woman who appears to drivers just before they have an accident) and makes $90 billion by investing in one of those “I am requesting your help” messages.

The tipping point in most of the stories is illusive. Or maybe it’s just a matter of interpretation. Or not. In his Introduction, the publisher, Fabrice Giger, recounts a tipping point in his life and then says the contributors to this book “examine their own tipping points.” But he also thinks there are fourteen contributors, not thirteen. Besides, only a couple of the stories are obviously autobiographical.

But it doesn’t matter. The stories are mostly a little spooky, puzzling fragments of imaginary longer tales. They are beautifully drawn and fun to read. What more can we ask?


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