Tiny Acts of Violence

This is the 2nd part of a 2-part review. Part One is HERE.

written and illustrated by Martin Stiff
224 pages
Published 2020 by A14 Books

Buy it HERE.

'Tidy' acts of violence?

This story was very tidy. The police official, Captain Schneider is methodical, not menacing. It's taken for granted he has far reaching authority; people get taken away without so much as a hiccup -if he so desires. He doesn't need menace.


The main character, Sebastian Metzger, the brother of hated GDR high official Volker Metzger, is an ex-Stasi (secret police) agent turned school teacher. Sebastian Metzger is continually probing to get to the bottom of a lost memory. TAOV is one of those stories where you don't know if a character like Metzger is really hallucinating or there are actual demons around him. And, as usual for any kind of a story like this it's a secret that can't be divulged.

I can say however his lost memory is somewhere in the woods. The forest ties in neatly with a deep seated subconscious textural backdrop that's wholly Germanic. Martin Stiff does a superb job of knitting plot points and cultural identity (especially the crisis years of The Berlin Wall) into an organic whole. TAOV is a story that emerges out of that deeply subconscious marrow that's Northern European. Roman occupation, Christianity, Communism are just temporary washes that never alter what's impermeable inside a German's mind (just read some Nietzsche).


Breezy sketchy art style.

Martin Stiff is also the artist here, not to mention the letterer and graphic stylist.

His use of typewritten pages (issuing from the forbidden and secret 'Dispatches from the Wrong Side of the World' weekly document) in fragments here and there work in concert with the action, usually in a dry and sardonic reflective language.

Stiff's art is very light and direct. His people are drawn simple and unremarkable. If this were a quick 20 minute read 30 page floppy I would be wanting more art-wise, but being this is such a heavy 200-plus page tome it's just the right style!

Next Tuesday:

It's a real cool looking (and thick again) black and white story called Lodger!

It's another 'he done her wrong so she's out for revenge' story from David Lapham and Maria Lapham!


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